Success Stories: Seattle Public Schools Partner With “Team Read” For the 18th Year
Reading proficiency is perhaps one of the most important aspects of early education. With reading prowess comes increased self-confidence, critical thinking skills, and vitally, a life-long love affair with books and knowledge. Seattle Public Schools takes the issue of reading proficiency very seriously, and as such, has partnered with Seattle-based non-profit, Team Read. Here’s a rundown of what the partnership entails and how it has impacted the lives of thousands of Seattle elementary and high school students over its near two-decade long tenure:
Team Read provides its services particularly for 2nd and 3rd graders, which are known to be critical years for developing reading proficiency. The process begins with teachers identifying and referring 2nd and 3rd grade students who are reading at one or two years behind their grade level. Then, these learners are partnered with local high school students for between two and four hours of one-on-one tutoring each week.
Team Read can be understood best as an extended learning opportunity for children to gain exposure to literacy skills, thereby enabling them to perform better both in school and out. But there’s more to this program’s impact than “only” helping students perform their best in a non-judgmental environment.
There’s a dual impact when it comes to Team Read: the effect the program has on the struggling student, and the effect the program has on its teenage tutors. For tutors, they get the chance to be a mentor from early on – a very valuable skill to acquire – and through their mentorship, these high school students learn professional skills that often don’t come until college or later in life. As for the mentee, their academic performance increases not only because of extra time spent studying, but due to the social and emotional support their tutor is able to provide that teachers sometimes cannot.
Primarily for 2nd and 3rd graders, we know those are critical years for proficiency in reading. Team Read is an extended learning opportunity for children to get further exposure to literacy skills so they can be more successful in school.
As one tutor noted, “It feels good to help students improve their reading and develop their love for reading.” Such sentiment is extremely powerful in creating a sense of security and community within an educational framework – something that largely affects a student’s academic progress and sense of self.
Team Read doesn’t just pick any high school student who applies. Tutors are recruited, screened, and finally hired by Team Read. But they’re not alone after that; Team Read trains, coaches, and supports their tutors throughout the year in order for them to reach their utmost potential as effective reading coaches.
Embarking on its 18th year, the impressive program has developed a robust curriculum drawn from the best literacy strategies informed by years of peer-reviewed reading research to help students build a strong vocabulary, improve their reading fluency, and continually progress their reading comprehension.
This research and years of industry experience led Team Read to focus their efforts on a single primary instructional tool known as the Power Reader Journal (PRJ). This Journal is a one-stop-shop for reading prowess, full of lessons including sight word work, phonics, reading comprehension and fluency. These lessons are also aligned with the Common Core State Standards. To keep things interesting for the students, “Team Read provides a collection of fun, interesting culturally relevant books at each elementary school.” Half of those books are fiction, while the other half are non-fiction or informational.
As of the 2016-17 school year (the 17th year of the Team Read initiative), Team Read was offered at ten Seattle Public Schools: Baily Gatzert Elementary, Concord International Elementary, Dunlap Elementary, Leshi Elementary, Lowell Elementary, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, Orca K-8 School, South Shore PK-8 School, Thurgood Marshall Elementary, and Van Asselt Elementary. From these ten schools, over 350 students were paired with tutors throughout the school year.
The schools aren’t chosen at random, however: Team Read partners with elementary schools where more than half of the students are from low-income families.
With the current economic climate, with special attention to local, state, and federal funding for education initiatives, there are certain resource constraints throughout the public school system. Team Read believes that teachers and other school administrators can’t tackle this problem on their own and aims to help bridge the gap through their services.
This is a program and a partnership with both short- and long-term benefits. According to Greg Imel, Principal of Baily Gatzert Elementary, “This is a strong program that benefits children, schools and future citizens of Seattle.” As Team Read continues to expand its reach and impact, Mr. Imel’s words seem to ring true.
Featured photo courtesy of Pixabay under Creative Commons 0 license