Mecklenburg County has a reading crisis. According to the 2019 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), 80% of African American and Hispanic fourth grade boys in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are unable to read proficiently.
The improved literacy practices incubated at six CMS elementary schools have potential to be shared across all 95 elementary schools in the district.
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Read Charlotte, in partnership with CMS and UPD consulting, turned a typical “pilot program” on its head. Instead, six CMS elementary schools used “improvement science” to evaluate and shift how students are taught to read. This 18-month project concluded in June 2019.
If we look across all schools in Mecklenburg County, only 39% of fourth graders were proficient on the 2019 NAEP.
Read Charlotte is working under a tight deadline and goal – to achieve 80% proficiency by 2025. Given the urgency of their work, the improvement science methodology, that allows for insights to spread faster and more effectively, was particularly critical for this work.
As part of this project, Montclaire Elementary focused on small group literacy instruction, a core component of teaching students to read in K-3.
“UPD helped us reimagine our small group instruction, so that students get more access to grade level text, while also building foundational skills,” said Kathryn Pedrotty, former Assistant Principal at Montclaire Elementary. “Teachers have become more adept at using scaffolding techniques to teach literacy.”
Montclaire used evidence-based practices coupled with an examination of their school’s data to inform the small group instruction redesign. UPD helped create an action plan and provided instructional coaching and monthly check-in’s.
In addition to Montclaire, the other elementary schools that participated in the improvement science project were Huntingtowne Farms, Nations Ford, Sterling, Steele Creek and University Park Creative Arts. The schools met quarterly in a “Community of Practice” to accelerate their learnings through shared successes, best practices and lessons learned.
In 2018, The Belk Foundation co-invested $217,130 with CMS and Read Charlotte for the improvement science project.