Third grade marks a turning point in a child’s education, where they go from learning to read to learning through reading. In Milwaukee, 17% of 3rd graders are proficient readers. Research shows that students who fall behind in the earliest stages of reading are at a heightened risk of chronic absence and failure to complete high school--and students living in poverty are at an even higher risk. Right now, 80% of students in Milwaukee live in poverty. While we do not have control over what happens out of school, we can adjust what happens in school so that students who need different support receive it.
That is where Reading Foundations (RF) comes in. The Milwaukee Succeeds Third Grade Reading partnership created this new reading instruction model that is intended to move students who are “below target” to being “on target.” The core of this model is teacher coaching. Teachers receive training on best practices in how to teach foundational reading skills, along with ongoing coaching throughout the year.
In the 2016-17 school year, RF was provided to K5 through 2nd grade students in 12 schools. UWM did an evaluation of the teacher coaching component of the RF model in those schools. It found that students who received RF instruction performed better on spring standardized testing than students who did not receive RF instruction. The report also found that all RF students experienced growth, especially in the kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms, where 45% of students moved from below target in the fall to on target in the spring.
Due to the model's promising results, philanthropy and school systems have dedicated more resources to supporting this work.
Reading Foundation Continuation
A closer look at evidence-based reading strategies, collectively referred to as Transformative Reading Instruction (TRI), to improve third grade reading outcomes for all children in Milwaukee.
Reading Foundations represents collective impact at its best. Experts, practitioners, and stakeholders from a cross-sector of our community came together to design, deploy, study, and expand RF since 2012.