As a teacher at Rowe Elementary School in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood, I have the privilege of working with students to get them excited about reading. At Rowe, we serve mainly students of color, with 80% Hispanic and nearly 18% African American comprising our student body.
This summer, I participated in a pilot literacy program with Stand for Children. The students were third through fifth graders who attend Rowe and were enrolled in a summer day camp hosted by Northwestern Settlement.
Armed with a tablet-based adaptive reading program, these students set out to read 30 minutes on most camp days. My role as their Reading Coach was to guide their reading and selection of texts and to collaborate with Stand, which hosted family events to celebrate the students efforts and reinforce to the parents the important role they played in their children’s success. The results speak for themselves when it comes to whether this program helped students on their path to becoming better readers.
Together, these students read a combined 12,613 minutes and consumed 819 books! Not only that, their progress as readers really stood out.
An average student will see their literacy skills improve by about 2.3 Lexile Growth points per week. Students in the Stand summer reading program across two cohorts saw Lexile Growth of 15.4 points per week!
The numbers show that this program can help tackle summer learning loss in an impactful way. Summer learning loss is no joke. It describes one of the most significant factors contributing to the growing achievement gap: by fifth grade, low-income students can be as much as two to three years academically behind their wealthier peers.
One of the most personally fulfilling parts of this program was seeing the growth in individual students. For example, one of my scholars named Manny came into the program not enjoying reading. He typically avoided books and mom expressed concern for him in this academic area. For the first few weeks he was reluctant to engage with any of the texts in the program. After a few conferences and mini lessons, Manny began to soar. He was earning badges, his reading level grew tremendously, and his confidence became more and more evident as the program progressed.
By the end of the program, Manny LOVED to read. As a fourth grade scholar in my current classroom I have the privilege to see his continued growth in both his reading skills and confidence that Lightsail jump started for him during the summer.
Thank you to the students putting in the work to improve their literacy this summer and thank you to their parents and to Stand for their support. An extra special thanks to Exelon for generously sponsoring this program!