Denver Public Schools (DPS) students in kindergarten through grade 3 posted double-digit gains on early literacy exams, as seen by the most recent Colorado READ Act assessments. On Aug. 14, Superintendent Tom Boasberg celebrated this growth with Schmitt Elementary educators, returning for their first day of the new school year. Schmitt educators’ commitment led students to a more than 25% increase in early literacy at the once-struggling turnaround school in Southwest Denver.
“Last year, one of our students excitedly shared with me that he had reached green on Istation (a READ Act assessment), which means he was reading on grade level,” said Schmitt’s Dean of Instruction Carli Shock. “He then asked me if there was anything higher than green, because if there was, that is what he wanted to strive for. Early success fosters future success – our success is due to our dedicated, passionate and talented educators
Districtwide, kindergarten through third-grade students experienced substantial fall-to-spring grade level growth in 2016-17. DPS schools have the option of taking one of four assessments to fulfill the requirements of the Colorado READ Act, which was passed by state lawmakers in 2012 to help ensure all Colorado students are reading at grade level by the end of grade 3.
About 80% of DPS schools, including Schmitt, use the Istation assessment. These schools together saw a 17% increase in students reading at grade level from fall 2016 to spring 2017. At the same time, the percentage of K-3 students who were reading significantly below grade level decreased from fall to spring, from 23% of students in the fall to 15% in the spring. Across all four assessments, the number of DPS students reading at grade level increased by 14%.
“What a great way to celebrate our teachers’ first day back by recognizing the extraordinary work our educators have done to drive tremendous growth in reading,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg. “We saw our greatest gains ever of students who are reading at or above grade level. If we can be successful in helping our kids learn to read at the youngest age, we will be able to make the most impact on their lives.”
Southwest Denver Board Member Rosemary Rodriguez passionately shared that “kids know when they’re behind. Students want to achieve and they know reading and education is the gateway to success.”
Denver voters supported this growth by approving the bond and mill levy in November, which included a $6.8 million investment in early literacy. The investment targets training to all teachers in grades ECE-3 and bolsters interventions for struggling readers. Last summer, all ECE-3 teachers attended a weeklong Early Literacy Institute to support this early literacy work.
DPS recognizes early literacy as essential to building a strong foundation for success in school and in life. In fact, students who are reading and writing proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to graduate. That is why the second goal of the Denver Plan 2020 – a foundation for success in school – is critically important.
The Colorado Reading To Ensure Academic Development Act (Colorado READ Act) focuses on helping ensure all Colorado students are reading at grade level by the end of grade 3.