As part of a two-year charter dissemination project funded by RIDE, Highlander facilitator Dawn August has supported school-based literacy reform initiatives at Whiteknact and Oldham Elementary schools in East Providence RI over the past school year.
The project model was developed by HILL for Literacy in Woburn, MA, and proven at the Highlander Charter School from 2008 – 2012. Over that period, literacy rates for K – 6 students at Highlander Charter grew from 46% proficient on DIBELS in the fall of 2008 to current levels of 84% proficiency. From 2008 – 2011, the performance of Highlander students on the state literacy NECAP exam has increased from 50% to 69%.
The project in East Providence began with a comprehensive literacy needs assessment, which included teacher and administrator perspectives, a teacher knowledge survey, and a survey that rated current literacy practices against research-based norms. Teachers at both schools were trained in using DIBELS as a screening and progress monitoring tool, and participated in five sets of grade level data meetings over the course of the year. Individualized support was offered to teachers as they implemented targeted, differentiated instructional plans in the form of co-teaching, observations, co-planning and debriefing. Teachers were also invited to participate in a weekly graduate level seminar course on the foundations of reading instruction. School principals and reading specialists met monthly for personalized professional development opportunities.
Year 1 DIBELS data shows that both Whiteknact and Oldham are following Highlander’s improvement trajectory. Between 2008 – 2009, the percentage of students reaching grade level benchmarks at Highlander increased by 13 points. Over the current school year, reading proficiency levels increased by 13 points at Whiteknact and 17 points at Oldham.
Congratulations are due to the school leaders and the talented educators at both schools. The project work will continue at Whiteknact and Oldham during the upcoming school year with the goal of each school gaining an additional 10 percentage points in reading proficiency levels by the end of 2013.
Meanwhile, the district of East Providence will work with the Highlander Institute to expand the initiative across the other six elementary schools starting in the fall of 2012.