“The CLI program produces substantial effects on teachers’ classroom environment and literacy practices, which in turn, lead to measurable effects on average reading achievement in early elementary grades.” That was American Institutes for Research’s conclusion after its three-year impact evaluation of Children’s Literacy Initiative’s five-year, federally funded project in 38 schools across four, low-performing urban school districts.
Now CLI is scaling its proven intervention for kindergarten through 3rd (K-3rd) grade teachers to reach an estimated 49,500 more students in new schools in four additional urban districts. This effort is funded through a $19.5 million Scale-up grant from the 2015 Investing in Innovation (i3) competition from the U.S. Department of Education, which also requires that CLI raise a 5% match in private-sector funding.
The ultimate goal of CLI’s i3 Scale-up project is to improve teacher effectiveness and get more students reading proficiently by third grade. Only 36% of U.S fourth graders are proficient readers, and nearly a third (31%) are “below basic” (National Center for Education Statistics, 2013).
Headquartered in Philadelphia, CLI intends to establish a “hub” office in three new regions serving the 7th, 8th and 43rd largest public school districts in the country: Broward County (FL) Public Schools, Houston (TX) Independent School District, and Denver (CO) Public Schools, respectively. In addition, CLI will expand its East Coast presence by adding Elizabeth (NJ) Public Schools.
To reconfirm CLI’s broad effectiveness in real world situations, the i3 Scale-up project will include a new, randomized control trial conducted by American Institutes for Research to specifically evaluate the impact of CLI’s intervention in school districts with higher concentrations of English Language Learners (ELLs). In the Houston and Denver districts, roughly a third or more of the students are ELLs.
CLI’s approach provides a robust alternative to the fragmented, one-shot professional development workshops commonly found in schools across the county. For this project, CLI will provide:
- Early Literacy Instruction Seminars for K-3rd grade teachers
- High-quality books and materials for classrooms
- Job-embedded coaching for K-3rd grade teachers
- Development of Model Teachers with expertise on key instructional practices
- Support for principals, school-based leadership, and Model Teachers
- Annual reviews of progress among participating schools in each market
CLI also will use the i3 Scale-up grant to build an online knowledge management system that will make its information, demonstration videos, and other content about CLI’s core instructional practices and collaborative learning structures available for public use.
CLI’s proposed knowledge management system will organize and present CLI content according to the user’s role. For example, a teacher and a principal may both want to see examples of a core literacy instruction practice in action, but a teacher may want to go deeper into how to plan for the practice, while a principal may want to have examples of what to look for while doing a classroom walkthrough.
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