STIMULUS-FUNDED LITERACY SUCCESS STORY IN CAMDEN TRACKS RATE OF READING ACQUISITION TO HOLD ALL SCHOOL STAKEHOLDERS ACCOUNTABLE FOR STUDENT PROGRESS
CAMDEN, N.J.—Predominately black Camden City Public Schools has launched a historic and unprecedented district-wide reading initiative in partnership with American Reading Company using federal stimulus funds in all 20 elementary and family schools. Today, schools are using data-monitoring software to track the actual rate of reading acquisition in order to hold principals and teachers accountable for reading progress expectations.
As of February 2010, the majority of students in Camden are reading an hour a day, which means they have logged at least 125 hours of supervised independent reading practice already this school year. Last month, Jane Hileman, Founder and CEO of American Reading Company, met with United States Department of Education (ED) officials in Washington, D.C., to report on Camden’s early success with Action 100, the company’s Response to Intervention (RtI) Accountability Model, expressly designed to meet Department of Education objectives for reading achievement. Separate meetings were held with Jim Shelton, Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Office of Innovation and Improvement; Jacqueline Jones, Senior Advisor for Early Learning of the Office of the Secretary; Larry Wexler, Division Director of Research and Practice of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services; and Richard Smith, Acting Division Director of the Office of English Language Acquisition.
According to Hileman, “Action 100 uses a 12-step professional development framework with 30 days of ‘elbow-to-elbow’ training for teachers to master research-based best practices, ensuring that teacher quality is theconstant in every school, and not the variable.” As fourth-grade inclusion teacher Dawn Wilson at U.S. Wiggins Elementary School in Camden attests, “They don’t just come to watch, they come to show us.”
In addition to extensive training, Action 100 utilizes data both to inform instruction and to hold stakeholders accountable. “Data is power,” explains Camden’s Assistant Superintendent, Andrea Gonzalez-Kirwin. “Data has enabled us centrally to have conversations that are truly based around how children are performing or are not performing.” Data transparency means that the success level of every student, teacher, and principal is visible in real time so that all stakeholders can be held accountable on a daily basis.
According to Dr. Richard Allington, author and former president of the International Reading Association, who visited Camden to see the program in action, “By the time the beginning of the new [school] year rolls around, we may actually have the schools in Camden producing high levels of growth.”
About American Reading Company
American Reading Company transforms school cultures to create sustainable reading achievement through training, management, and monitoring systems. The company was founded in 1998 and is now based in King of Prussia, Pa. Today, more than a million students in 2,100 schools across 420 districts in 41 states participate in the company’s programs. Extensive research results show that 100 Book Challenge has boosted the standardized reading test scores of students and dramatically closed the achievement gap in participating schools. Action 100 is the company’s most comprehensive intervention program to turn around the nation’s lowest-performing schools under the requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. For more information, please visit www.americanreading.com.