Fort Worth ISD students are working this summer to make up for lost learning time due to COVID-19, and move forward on largest summer learning program the district has ever had never had.
Students struggling with reading, a priority for the district in recent years, are making significant progress in one of the district’s collaborative learning partnerships with United Community Centers, which offers an intensive literacy intervention program. called Leveled literacy intervention.
Frances Torres, the program director, said mid-summer evaluations showed “tremendous growth” among the 450 students participating in LLI programs across the district.
âOf course all of our kids have come very low – a lot of kids are down to maybe a level or two from last year,â Torres said. âSo catching up with them was so important, but now trying to push them to the next level is our main focus. “
Fort Worth ISD has expanded its collaboration with the reading program to more than 20 schools this summer as part of a successful effort to get kids back on track after more than a year of disrupted learning.
The program, which started in just two schools in 2014, targets students most in need of literacy intervention.
Trudy Darden, one of the program’s original coordinators, said she has seen students go through transformative growth in reading and confidence during her six years with the program.
âThe Leveled Literacy Intervention is designed to bridge the gap between where kids are and where they really should be, especially with our high-risk kids,â Darden said. “And they’re going to experience this summer slide just like any other kid.”
The program, which is now in 22 schools and three community centers, identifies students throughout the year using assessments to identify reading gaps to target during the summer.
âWe have a specific literacy program that we’re working with called the Fountas and Pinnell Level Literacy Intervention,â Torres, the program director, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It works with kids who are in grades one and two, who have been shown to be at a lower reading level than their peers.”
Torres noted that the program, which takes place after school and during the summer, is not the same as classroom instruction.
âIt’s a huge difference from any other study program,â she said. âThis program is not a program that is taught on a regular school day. It’s very intensive. â
Rapid response involves small groups of three to four children who come together for 30-minute sessions with a qualified teacher. Many LLI teachers, like Tequila Lockridge, who is the LLI teacher for the Polytechnic Community Center, teach for Fort Worth ISD during the year.
Focus on the reading level
Lockridge welcomed four students aged 4 to 8 to his class Tuesday morning in a small classroom at the Fort Worth Polytechnic Center.
The students varied in age, but according to assessments made at the start of the summer, were at the same reading level.
“There is a system and a lesson to match this level,” Lockridge told the Star-Telegram after the lesson. âAnd if they’re plugged in at exactly the right level and they get the lesson, that actually just shifts their levels. It gives them a place where they can get into reading whereâ¦ it’s not too difficult where they give up,â¦ and then it’s not too easy where it is, it’s boring.
This is a key aspect of the program, stakeholders said, as students who lag behind in reading are at a disadvantage in all subjects if they try to learn with others their age or age. school level.
Students begin the 30-minute lesson by reviewing a book they have already learned, turning the pages and saying words on their own, with guidance from the teacher.
They then move on to new reading materials and spelling exercises, where they practice forming words with the teacher’s guidance. Throughout, students identify “visual words”, which do not follow ordinary spelling rules and therefore need to be memorized.
âIn my six years here, I’ve seen kids go through three, four levels,â Darden said. “If you’re at A-level and you need to be at C-level, my job is to focus on those skills over there in B so that I can bridge that gap and get you to where you need to be.”
While the students are in the LLI group, other students engage in other “enrichment activities” that involve literacy and other topics. Students participate in other learning enrichment activities, including crafts and less strict afternoon activities.
A summer moose
UCC is just one of 17 community partnerships across 145 locations that come together to promote literacy and enrichment as part of the Read Fort Worth Summer Fellows program.
The historic collaboration works closely with Fort Worth ISD to standardize goals and data collection across all programs, said executive director Elizabeth Brands, to ensure the focus is where it needs to be.
âFort Worth ISD Summer Launch is a Read Fort Worth Summer Scholars Collaboration Partner,â she said. âWe are working closely with them to ensure alignment and continuity between what children learn in their Fort Worth ISD classrooms and what they learn through extended learning experiences, including after school. school and summer. “
In a statement, FWISD Superintendent Kent P. Scribner said the program for the first time offered a unique approach to teaching literacy across organizations and grade levels “rather than competing pedagogies.”
While not all programs focus entirely on literacy, the collaboration introduced aspects of literacy training to “provide a rewarding literacy experience every day the children attend a summer program” .
At Clayton Youth Enrichment Services, part of the Read Fort Worth and UCC Collaborative Action Network, a literacy coach has been recruited to provide daily training, Torres said.
âOur program meets monthly with all the other after-school programs like Clayton YES, or YMCA, or Boys and Girls Club,â Torres said. âWe have people coming to the table and talking about our programsâ¦ and we have the opportunity to collaborate with each other to see how we’re all going to be on the same page.â
Not the only solution
The summer surge follows years of poor reading achievement and a growing interest in literacy, prompting the rollout of a new literacy framework that began last school year.
In recent years, UCC has spent time primarily with first and second graders, closing the gaps before they enter third grade and have to take the STAAR reading exam.
âSo that they can pass the STAAR,â Darden said. “We love to be a part of that, so if we can get them to where they need to be at the end of second year, and they’re going to take STAAR and they are successful, that’s a win-win.”
But for Darden and others at UCC, it’s more about reading proficiency than testing.
âWe want to bring kids to a place where they read to learn and not to learn to read,â Darden said. âAt the end of class, you will often see a child in a corner reading a bookâ¦ they are reading to learn. And that’s awesome. ”
Whatever the ultimate goal, Brands said the collaborative approach exemplified over the summer will need to continue in order to see sustainable growth.
âThe real success that we are seeing with our collaboration with the Summer Fellows is that this is a great example of Fort Worth working together to find solutions for our children,â said Brands. “And that theme has to continue not just this summer or throughout this school year, but for the long haul if we are to get kids back on the path to where they need to be.”