Atlanta Public Faculties seeks to realize fairness by way of new literacy plan

“What do I NOT need you to sound like?” she asks the group.

“A robotic,” one baby responds.

Kimberly is one among eight faculties taking part in Atlanta Public Faculties’ literacy-based pilot program. The initiative, known as Literacy and Justice for All, is a partnership between the United Approach of Better Atlanta, the Joseph B. Whitehead Basis and the Atlanta Speech College. The Atlanta college board just lately permitted its first-ever literacy coverage, which requires the superintendent to select “evidence-based literacy curricula” to enhance pupil efficiency. Greater than 40% of APS third graders have been under grade degree in studying final yr, in response to state knowledge.

This system started in Marietta’s college district and focuses on phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. (This system’s on-line part, known as Cox Campus, is funded partly by the James M. Cox Basis, which is affiliated with the homeowners of The Atlanta Journal-Structure.)

Credit score: Steve Schaefer

Credit score: Steve Schaefer

“(This system) is a mindset that, ‘We’re going to do no matter it takes (to enhance literacy),’” stated Ryan Lee-James, a speech-language pathologist and chief tutorial officer on the Atlanta Speech College.

Lee-James identified that Marietta has seen improved English and studying scores on the Georgia Milestones yearly evaluation. District officers have attributed the good points to the system’s revamped strategy to studying. The college system is now in its third yr of the initiative.

Kimberly is within the second yr of its pilot program. It’s early, however the college did see a rise within the share of scholars studying on grade degree after this system’s first yr. Georgia Milestones knowledge exhibits 41.3% of the college’s third graders have been studying on grade degree final yr, in comparison with 25.9% the yr earlier than. English scores additionally improved with 15.2% of third graders scoring proficient or above, in comparison with 7.4% the earlier yr.

ExploreMarietta tries distinctive technique to arrange younger youngsters to be taught to learn

Credit score: Steve Schaefer

Credit score: Steve Schaefer

The vast majority of college students in Atlanta’s pilot faculties are Black and economically deprived. Most of their third graders scored under grade degree in studying and English language arts on state assessments final yr. In APS as an entire, state knowledge exhibits about 44% of third graders have been under grade degree in studying on final yr’s Milestones. The information was worse for Black college students, with 55% of Black third graders studying under their grade degree.

At Kimberly, 93.4% of scholars are Black and 65.5% are economically deprived, in response to state knowledge.

“Lots of the college students that we serve have a protracted historical past of poverty, what we name ‘generational poverty,’” stated Kimberly Principal Joseph Salley. “With that comes some … disrupted instruction due to transferring that occurs on a constant foundation.”

Kimberly has a 47.3% mobility charge, that means virtually half of the scholars change faculties in the course of the yr. Salley stated offering consistency — like having related, high quality studying instruction throughout faculties — might assist slender gaps in fairness.

“(Our college students) must be studying on grade degree once they depart us,” Salley stated. “In any other case, all the things else is blocked off to them. They’ll’t learn the contract. They’ll’t learn the lease. They’ll’t apply for the job.”

Credit score: Steve Schaefer

Credit score: Steve Schaefer

In lecture rooms all through Kimberly, college students are working in teams on totally different studying expertise. Some are sounding out letters and phrases by way of enjoyable video games with colourful items. They’re touching letters as they spell phrases out loud. They’re counting sounds and syllables.

McClendon stated she hopes APS retains this system as a result of her college students this yr have been higher ready after going by way of this system in second grade.

“It’s a complete (and) full distinction,” she stated. “These college students … have just a little bit extra background information on sure issues than (earlier courses) … as a result of we didn’t have this program in place.”

It’s unclear whether or not the district will grant McClendon’s want to preserve Literacy and Justice for All and broaden it to the remainder of the district, however the college board’s coverage committee chair, Cynthia Briscoe Brown, agrees that offering evidence-based studying instruction is an fairness situation.

“We definitely need to get all our classes discovered from (this system), take a look at the outcomes, take a look at what labored and what didn’t,” Brown stated in a telephone interview. “Actually I’d hope one thing like … the present program could possibly be scaled to work throughout the district all over the place that it’s wanted.”

APS faculties taking part within the Literacy and Justice for All pilot program:

Heritage Elementary College

Kimberly Elementary College

Dobbs Elementary College

Dunbar Elementary College

Tuskegee Airmen International Academy

Peyton Forest Elementary College

Barack and Michelle Obama Academy

Miles Elementary College

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