74% of US 4th graders read below proficent and there is a 90% chance a poor reader in first grade remains a poor reader.
The Indy Learning Team creates partnerships to unlock the key of lifelong success through early literacy learning. We work to end the generational cycle of shame and struggle associated with learning to read and write.
We accomplish this by bringing effective literacy instruction and resources to families and establishing a reading culture in communities. Read more about our programs and our dramatic success stories.
Year-Round Literacy Instruction Programs
We partner with community organizations such as the Martin Luther King Jr Community Center to design, implement, and monitor a year-round reading intervention program aimed at getting all students reading at grade level. 75% of the children in the program started one or more grade level behind in reading. Over our first summer, we saw two years of growth in the 5th-8th reading skills. For our kindergarteners, first and second graders, we are teaching them the five foundational elements of reading (phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension) along with handwriting. Our students who started not knowing any letter names or sounds, can now read and write! You can read more about this program at .
Reading Specialist Training
We work to build a reading culture in communities through our programs, tools and resources. One key component of long term success is through training reading specialists who live in the communities being served. Not only are we training reading specialists, but we are arming them with online tools, books and additional resources to distribute and build relationships with parents and families. These investments prepare the reading specialists for well-paying jobs in the community, improves children's literacy skills, and educates and empowers the parents.
The Indy Learning Team has partnered with Children’s Bureau Homeless Shelter to provide books and handmade bags for children to take with them when they leave the shelter. Many of these children come to the Children’s Bureau with nothing. They now leave the Children’s Bureau with a unique handmade bag full of books. We have also worked with the Children’s Bureau to provide books and early literacy learning tools including being read to 3 times per day and practicing the 5 skills of reading readiness.
How Grant Money Will Be Used:
The Indy Learning Team believes in direct action to build a reading culture and provide effective literacy instruction and resources to all families. Our current activities have created a model of success to improve early literacy rates.
There is nearly a 90% chance that a poor reader in first grade will remain a poor reader. Research indicates, and our current programs have shown, that explicit reading intervention can not only prevent students from failing behind in first grade, but can help them catch up.
The grant will be used in three direct ways.
- Expand our community reading specialist training program
- Expand our year-around literacy intervention and reading culture building programs
- Expand our book distribution using the Dolly Parton Imagination Library
Leading literacy researchers have found “children who get off to a poor start in reading rarely catch up. As several studies have now documented, the poor first-grade reader almost invariably continues to be a poor reader (Francis, Shaywitz, Stuebing, Shaywitz, & Fletcher, 1996; Torgesen & Burgess, 1998)”. The researchers found the effects of low literacy rates only grow overtime. Poor early literacy skills result in negative attitudes toward reading, less practice reading, and poor vocabulary growth. Research is clear that the problem of poor readers is preventable with the following program elements:
- The right kind of quality instruction delivered with,
- The right level of intensity and duration,
- To the right children,
- At the right time
Reading Specialist Training and Year-Round Intervention
Our first two initiatives follow the program recommendations from the top literacy researchers: expanding community reading specialists training program, and expanding year-round literacy intervention and building of a culture of reading. The Indy Learning Team partners with community centers to implement these foundational programs, identify children early, and provide them with year-round instruction 4 days a week. Students are progress-monitored using standardized metrics, and highly-trained reading specialists who will work one-on-one twice a week (year-round!) with children who struggle. We are able to track the results and ensure that the children are being supported every step of the way.
During this program, children are exposed to high quality, culturally-diverse literature to expand their vocabulary, comprehension and foster a love of learning. Professor Watermelon, a creative-writing specialist we use, sparks our students imagination in weekly creative writing sessions.
We are currently training one reading specialist from the MLK Community Center community, and bringing the other reading specialists in from outside the community. The need for early literacy support is great and the schools we primary serve don’t have the trained staff to address the program. For one of the primary schools that our year-around intervention program serves, 44% of students did not pass the 3rd grade I-Read test and 76% of our 4th, 5th and 6th graders did not pass I-Step.
No parent should feel they have to try to do it alone. These initiatives chip away at the multi generational cycle of shame and struggle with literacy and the achievement gap which comes with low literacy levels.
These two programs provide hope, resources and the skills for students to become successful. A parent recently told us, “She[my daughter] has come such a long way. Thank you for all of the hard work! I couldn't have done it by myself.”
Expand our Book Distribution using the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library delivers free, high-quality books monthly to child ages 0-5. Why is book distribution important?
- 61% of America’s low-income children are growing up in homes without books (Reading Literacy in the United States: Findings from the IEA Reading Literacy Study, 1996.).
- Children from lower-income families hear a staggering 30 million fewer words than children from higher-income families by the time they are 4 years old (The Early Catastrophe, Betty Hart and Todd Risley)
- Academically, children growing up in homes without books are on average three years behind children in homes with lots of books, even when controlled for other key factors such as income and parents’ education. (M.D.R. Evans et al, “Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations”,Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, June 2010)
- The gap that low-income children start school with is troublingly persistent: 88% of first graders who are below grade level in reading will continue to read below grade level in fourth grade. (Juel, C., “Learning to read and write: A longitudinal study of 54 children from first through fourth grades.” Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 1988)
- The most powerful and highest-impact way to improve the reading achievement of economically disadvantaged children is to increase their access to appropriate print materials (Sanford Newman et al, “America’s Child Care Crisis: A Crime Prevention Tragedy”, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2000.
While the Dolly Parton Imagination Library provides all the books for free, we must provide 5 years shipping for all children.