Nationally, low-income students experience an average summer learning loss in reading achievement of more than two months every year. This summer, Istation initiated its 3rd annual Tackle Summer Slide program. The program is an effort to reverse summer reading loss by providing children with access to online curriculum, instruction from trained reading specialists, and learning incentives. Istation is an interactive computer-delivered program that provides every student with the individualized instruction she or he needs for continual success. Educators and parents can access online reports that track student progress and provide links to supplemental lessons. The collaborative effort between Dallas ISD, Dallas Afterschool, IStation, Dallas City of Learning, and The Commit! Partnership included 411 kindergarten through 3rd grade Dallas ISD students at eight community sites across the city. More than 30 literacy specialists worked with these students to prevent the trend of low-income students losing two months of reading achievement every summer. The results have been incredible. 72% of the students experienced no summer slide at all (up 8% from last summer), and 53% of students increased their literacy by two months. This significantly exceeds results from last year. Additionally, costs were cut in half this year by leveraging existing resources, such as sharing literacy specialists across sites. For the Tackle Summer Slide program’s fourth year, the involved organizations have already begun putting more supports and resources in place to hopefully help even more students overcome summer reading loss in 2018.
The Commit Partnership is excited to congratulate Julie Singleton on being named Dallas ISD’s (DISD) Elementary Principal of the Year. According to the district’s announcement, Ms. Singleton “has her staff and students laser-focused on college and career readiness. Every hallway of the Oak Cliff campus is decked with college banners, each door displays a college theme, and teachers sport their college attire weekly. At fifth grade, students are introduced to the college application process, and the school hosts a monthly College Café where students explore the majors and features offered by various colleges.” Commit’s partnership with Ms. Singleton and her school began in 2013-14, with a focus on early reading. The partnership has centered on analyzing Kindergarten through 2nd grade reading data for continuous improvement, increasing usage of the Istation computer-adaptive reading curriculum, providing teacher professional development, and promoting a college-going culture. Over the past two years, Holland Elementary has seen a 1,500% increase in the Istation computer-adaptive reading curriculum and a 20% increase in the number of Kindergarten through 3rd grade students finishing the school year reading on grade level. Of the nearly $100,000 in classroom supplies raised by the community via the Commit Partnership’s annual winter DonorsChoose campaign, $15,000 has been raised for Holland Elementary thanks to its teachers’ energies. According to Andy Canales, Commit’s Director of Literacy Initiatives and Partnerships, Ms. Singleton’s leadership has been essential: “Principal leadership is critical to fully leveraging partnerships and community resources. Because of Ms. Singleton’s leadership, we’ve been able to effectively use the potential of our partnership to improve outcomes for our youngest learners. Commit’s partnership with Holland is a model for how organizations and schools can successfully work together to improve the odds for kids.” Singleton’s supervisor, feeder pattern Executive Usamah Muhammad-Rogers describes the turnaround at Holland as “remarkable” and calls Singleton “a hard-working visionary who leads with courage and tenacity.”
Recognizing the critical role the community can play to support local students, an anonymous donor – through the Commit Partnership – generously purchased classroom literacy resources for over 230 K-2 literacy teachers at 17 Dallas ISD elementary schools in the South Oak Cliff (SOC), Molina, and ACE elementary schools reaching approximately 4,500 students. Valued at over $200,000, the donation includes a classroom library of 150 books for every Kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade classroom, an oral language-reading program, reading rugs, and teacher professional development. On Saturday, December 12th, over 100 community volunteers came together to write holiday cards and gift-wrap these literacy presents so that teachers could walk into their classrooms on Monday, December 14th with this wonderful surprise waiting inside. At Mills Elementary and Holland Elementary, community volunteers from the Dallas Police Department, Promising Youth Alliance, Leadership ISD, and Dallas County Community College District accompanied Santa Claus personally in delivering these gifts to students and teachers. Jolee Healey, Executive Director of the ACE campuses, is excited about the positive impact this gift will have on students: “We are so grateful for this donation to support literacy development in our schools. Studies have shown that access to printed materials, even more than poverty, is the most critical variable affecting reading acquisition. Up to 60% of families living in poverty lack books in their homes, a stark comparison to the average middle-class family with access to an abundance of books. Our schools strive to bridge the gaps, but classroom libraries are costly and may take years to acquire. That is why this donation is so important; we know that when children have access to a variety of high interest books within their classrooms, they actually spend more time reading and developing a love for reading. We feel very lucky to know our students will find their classrooms filled with reading joy this holiday season and for months to come.”
During the 2014-2015 school year, the Commit! Partnership began working with 7 elementary campuses in DeSoto ISD to increase student math achievement. As part of the partnership, principals reviewed data, visited high-performing outlier schools, and connected community partners with school needs. While visiting high-performing schools, principals credited much of the success they observed to mentorship and collaboration between teachers. As a result, DeSoto ISD principals have embraced collaborative, data-based Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) and initiated an Early Reading Academy and Math PLC’s. DeSoto ISD Math PLC’s Last year, principals voiced concerns over the new rigorous math standards, especially because many elementary campuses only had one math teacher per grade in grades 2-5. With that feedback, Commit! and DeSoto ISD now convene monthly cross-campus math PLC’s for 2nd-5th grade math teachers with the help of the Fluor Foundation. Teachers use Common Assessment and STAAR data to identify student learning gaps and are then provided with sample activities to address these learning gaps by DeSoto ISD math specialists. According to one 2nd grade teacher, “Reviewing the common assessment and talking with other grade level teachers about things that help in the areas the students have been struggling has been the most helpful aspect of the PLC.” Partnership With Dallas ISD and DeSoto ISD on Early Reading Academies In partnership with Dallas ISD, the “South Oak Cliff (SOC) Reading Academy” was launched last year with the goal of providing Kindergarten-3rd grade teachers with quality professional development in reading and writing instruction. 100% of teachers agreed the SOC Reading Academy improved their teaching and more of their colleagues would benefit from meaningful participation. 15 of 19 participating teachers had students exceeding the feeder pattern percentage of students on grade level in May 2015 or growing 10 percentile points or more from September to May. This year, the Commit! Partnership is refining and re-launching the SOC Reading Academy with ~25 Kindergarten – 2nd grade teachers reaching ~500 students. Additionally, Dallas ISD is expanding a similar Reading Academy model that will reach an additional 300 K-2 teachers serving over 6,000 students and DeSoto ISD is bringing the model to 20 Kindergarten-2nd Grade teachers, led by Dr. Clarissa Plair, who has over 30 years of literacy education and leadership experience. In DeSoto, teachers meet voluntarily each week and cover topics such as reading block schedules, running records, guided reading, phonemic awareness, phonics, word work and writer’s workshop. Teachers across campuses share from their classrooms what worked well, what didn’t, and how they plan to implement what they’re learning in the Reading Academy. From the first eight sessions, 91% of participants responded that the sessions are very helpful. One teacher commented, “They are short sessions, I'm able to focus, pay attention, and apply what I'm learning while at the same time having conversations with other Kinder teachers from other schools.” Reading academy participants also receive support from Commit! through student level data reports that help monitor student progress and a DonorsChoose campaign for up to $500 of resources [...]
With just a computer and an Internet connection, 40 tutors from six companies contributed over 275 hours of free tutoring to 47 1st and 2nd graders across three Dallas ISD schools in the Molina feeder pattern. Since December 2014, these tutors called their students once a week for 30 minutes. During these sessions, tutors and their students read stories, reviewed vocabulary, and practiced matching letters with sounds. At Cochran, Cowart, and Soto Elementary, the 2014-15 school year ended on an exciting note: Tutors from Haynes and Boones, Intuit, UPS, Thomson Reuters, Comerica Bank, Nielsen and Dallas ISD visited the 1st and 2nd grade students they’ve been tutoring since December 2014. During the visits, the tutors distributed books to all students and read stories with them. Casondra Wallace, a first grade teacher at Cochran, said the tutoring helped: “I have a girl who came in [reading at a] pre-k level and as of this week, she’s reading at a first grade level, which is amazing.” Other teachers observed students’ confidence in reading and excitement about class increased as students look forward to getting their calls every week. Dallas became the 14th city this year to launch TutorMate with the help of the Commit Partnership and Dallas ISD. To learn more about this work and how you can get involved, contact Andy Canales at email@example.com. Click here to access the KERA story.
For 24 Kindergarten – 3rd grade teachers in Dallas ISD’s South Oak Cliff (SOC) feeder pattern, the school year ended with many causes for celebration, including successfully completing the 2014-15 SOC Reading Academy and helping nearly 200 Kindergarten-3rd grade students end the year reading on grade level. Seeing that only 1 in 4 Kindergarten – 3rd graders were reading on grade level in 2013-14, Dallas ISD and the Commit! Partnership launched the SOC Reading Academy. The purpose: to support early grades teachers with data and professional development so they could help more students grow in their reading proficiency. Dr. Clarissa Plair, who has over 30 years of reading and leadership experience, facilitated the Reading Academy. Throughout the 2014-15 school year, 24 teachers voluntarily attended sessions covering best practices in reading and writing instruction. Through the Reading Academy, participating teachers collectively received 500 hours of professional development with 100% of them indicating this opportunity helped them improve their classroom instruction for years to come. Using the lessons from the Reading Academy to differentiate instruction is where teachers saw the magic happen: “My favorite moment of the year was when I was working with a small group on guided reading using principles that I had learned in the Reading Academy. One of my first graders said, ‘I’m learning!’ It was the most fulfilling moment of my day and year,” shared one first grade teacher. With support from the Boone Family Foundation and individual community members, the SOC Reading Academy also provided teachers with the opportunity to request essential classroom literacy resources via the DonorsChoose.org website. Nearly $7,000 worth of classroom supplies were donated to participating teachers. What about the impact on students? The majority of teachers had more students performing on grade level or growing in their reading proficiency compared to students from other classes in similar grades. Given the positive feedback from teachers and principals, the SOC Reading Academy will continue next school year with a more targeted focus on Kindergarten-2nd grade while serving as a learning laboratory for Dallas ISD. To learn more about this work or to get involved, please contact Andy Canales, Director of Literacy Initiatives and Partnerships, at firstname.lastname@example.org.