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Children must learn to read – because for the rest of their lives, they will read to learn.
In Denver Public Schools, 44% of third graders are not reading at grade level.
The DPS Foundation funds innovative literacy strategies for students of all ages to ensure every child is reading at grade level and prepared to be lifelong learners.
Research shows that by the age of three, children who come from homes where they are not engaged in rich dialogue can have a 32-million word vocabulary gap from their peers who are exposed to more vigorous conversations.
Each One Teach One - No More Gap is a highly effective, innovative program which is addressing this disparity for hundreds of DPS students, particularly English Language Learners who are prone to literacy struggles.
Each One Teach One engages community, parent and high school volunteers in one-on-one instruction with young readers. Students are engaged in vigorous conversations inspired by a richly-illustrated information text or narrative to build their vocabulary – their “keys to the future.” The groups are small enough that each child has many opportunities to respond orally, growing their confidence to participate in larger classroom discussions. Preliminary results show some students gained up to 1.5 years after a nine-month period in the Each One Teach One program.
In 2012, the DPS Foundation was awarded a Social Innovation Fund grant to support the expansion of Each One Teach One. The grant was one of only 11 awarded across the state based on a highly competitive application process through Mile High United Way.
And yet, this highly effective program is only operating in a handful of DPS schools. Private support is needed to bring this strategy into even more classrooms, helping address the critical need for students to read proficiently by the third grade.
DPS middle school students who struggle with reading are now learning through an innovative, participatory method called Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR). The approach combines teacher instruction with student-led small group work to increase comprehension through cooperative learning. Grade level reading proficiency is critical to a student’s success over time, and is directly tied to graduation rates.
It is only thanks to the community of public and private support that these cutting edge, proven strategies are not only improving literacy in DPS, but are helping students comprehend difficult text and regain their confidence in the classroom.
Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) is a small group literacy intervention program designed to close the gap in reading and writing. Currently, DPS uses this curriculum for the lowest achieving students in grades K-5. Students receive daily 30-minute lessons with an intervention specialist to help them improve their skills. Research shows that students are able to excel one entire grade level in just one semester.
DPS has been using LLI for four years and is currently being implemented in 68 of 86 elementary schools. DPS is looking to expand this program next year to target more kindergarten students.
Each kindergarten kit costs $1500 and includes a collection of brand new, carefully leveled books to provide enough support and a small amount of challenge so the reader can learn on the text and make small steps toward grade-level goals. Each day, the students get to take home a paperback book to build their own library at home. This is the bulk of the expense as each kit contains an estimated 100 books that are to be given away. Also included are teacher guides and lesson plans as well as student writing books, and professional development DVDs.