New United2Read Partnership Sets Out to Improve Early Literacy Skills

May 2, 2018 | By

Despite considerable resources spent on improving early literacy skills in the past 15 years, reading proficiency scores at the end of third grade are largely unchanged. Research shows that children who fail to read proficiently by the end of third grade face serious academic and life challenges. They are more likely to be retained a grade, to underachieve in mathematics and science, and are four times more likely to drop out of high school. Yet only 37 percent of children in the United States learn to read proficiently by the 4th grade, and reading proficiency drops to 22 percent for high-needs students and children of color.

To help address this gap, Digital Promise, Learning Ovations, MDRC, and The University of California at Irvine have received a five-year U.S. Department of Education grant to support the United2Read project. Over the course of the grant, the project will bring Learning Ovation’s Assessment2Instruction (A2i) professional support system to more than 100,000 students in at least 300 schools across the United States.

A2i is a professional support system – not a new reading curriculum – that leverages and seamlessly integrates districts’ existing assessments and curriculum to help teachers take the guesswork out of differentiating reading instruction for each child. The platform includes embedded assessments that monitor student progress and identify skill gaps in order to provide teachers with recommended amounts and types of literacy instruction for each student.

A2i has been proven effective in multiple randomized control trials over the past 13 years. Ninety-four percent of students who received literacy instruction in A2i-supported classrooms were able to read at, or above grade level, by the end of third grade. The United2Read project will scale A2i to classrooms nationwide and include a randomized controlled trial (RCT), conducted by MDRC, with 60 schools to determine the most cost-effective level of professional development support needed for teachers.

A2i has impacted our campus so positively, it allows teachers to work smarter, not harder. A2i has upgraded the time teachers are spending differentiating. More time is spent with kids learning and less time is spent with teachers grappling with what to do. Now, teachers aren’t just spending time with the students who are struggling but rather they’re able to spend time making sure all kids are getting the instruction they need.

–Amanda Jacobs, Former Principal at Phoenix Collegiate Academy

Throughout the study, Digital Promise will conduct qualitative research to understand the barriers to successful implementation of A2i and to identify strategies to overcome them.

Additionally, there are opportunities for schools to participate in the project as part of an expansion pool. Schools in the expansion pool will be able to utilize the A2i platform and a hybrid model of in-person and online professional development.

To learn more about participating in the United2Read project, click here to connect with a United2Read expert.

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