TOPEKA – The Kansas Reading Roadmap (KRR), an initiative commissioned by Governor Sam Brownback and funded by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF), is showing strong growth in third grade reading skills, according to an independent evaluation of the 2014-2015 school year.
The University of Kansas study shows in KRR model programs across the state, a greater number of children are achieving reading proficiency. KRR’s whole-school approach includes classroom instruction, in-school interventions, afterschool and summer programs, and family engagement. KRR schools have demonstrated a nearly 10-point improvement in children reading at benchmark levels. Schools use benchmark reading goals to identify whether children are on track to read at grade level.
“Third grade reading proficiency is critical to ensuring student academic success and is a strong predictor of timely graduation from high school,” said Governor Sam Brownback. “Early literacy efforts like the Kansas Reading Roadmap can both help these children succeed in school and in life.”
KRR schools have shown impressive growth in just one year. Labette County’s, Altamont Grade School showed a 69 percent increase in children reading at benchmark and a reduction of children at risk for special education by 73 percent. At Fairfield Elementary in Langdon, the number of children needing intensive reading interventions fell 60 percent, and the number of children at benchmark increased by 54 percent.
"KRR has been an excellent support for our district's vision, combining resources and training to better meet the needs of our K-3 students and families,” said Fairfield Superintendent Nathan Reid. “The approach of instruction during school, the support of an aligned afterschool program and the partnerships created with the families have created an environment of commitment. Our students have shown tremendous growth in our short time as part of the program, and I would recommend it to any district without hesitation.”
The KRR program, currently in 40 low-income schools across the state focuses on helping schools improve third grade reading proficiency. The program is grounded in a partnership with the Kansas Department of Education (KSDE), through the use of its Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) approach for in-school reform. Kansas MTSS is a coherent continuum of evidence-based, system-wide practices to support a rapid response to academic and behavioral needs, with frequent data-based monitoring for instructional decision-making to empower each student to achieve high standards. KSDE has spent more than 10 years developing Kansas MTSS in partnership with local schools. In addition to in-school improvement through MTSS, KRR schools also run aligned afterschool, summer and family engagement programs. Young readers who are identified as needing extra help receive coordinated interventions both during and outside of school.
“There is no one silver bullet for school reform or third grade reading,” KRR Executive Director Andrew Hysell said. “Instead it takes a lot of hard work and the better use of existing resources. Working with Kansas parents, teachers and administrators, I’m amazed by how much they’ve been able to accomplish.”
KRR utilizes Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds, provided by DCF. DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore is pleased to see such positive outcomes.
“Our mission includes promoting healthy families and encouraging personal responsibility,” Secretary Gilmore said. “Improving reading proficiency early in life ensures a brighter future for young Kansans and generations to come.”
The KRR programs provide up to 1,860 hours of out-of-school programming per student and offer direct services to more than 500 families per year.