United WE READ’s Two School District Partners Are Achieving Great Results!

This week brought significant milestone announcements for both Kingsport City Schools and Sullivan County Department of Education.

United WE READ supports our educators in their daily work to achieve literacy growth for ALL students. So when the official results return and that growth is clearly showcased, we love to highlight their great, ongoing work.

This past spring, we featured the historic gains that Sullivan County Schools have made through their long-range strategy and adoption of the Core Knowledge Language Arts Curriculum (CKLA) with Dr. Robin McClellan championing those efforts. (If you missed our summary, read more here).

Just this week, they announced even further reading growth, achieving“a significant decrease in the number of students with “at-risk” levels of reading proficiency, from 37.8% of students in the fall screening to 26% in the spring screening. This means that the district has 456 fewer elementary students with an “at-risk” designation for reading.” – Dr. Robin McClellan for Kingsport Times-News

Then, with the statewide release of the TN Ready results for the 2018-2019 school year, both districts received high recognition and a combined THIRTEEN local schools were designated as Reward Schools — the highest distinction a school can earn in Tennessee. Read their announcements below to learn more!

Sullivan County Department of Education’s Announcement.
Kingsport City School District’s Announcement.

United WE READ offers our sincere congratulations to both districts on their hard-earned accomplishments. We hope this momentum continues to motivate and inspire educators as they move forward into another great school year!

It’s the support from great partners that allow us to move the needle. We are better together!


– Dr. Jeff Moorhouse, Kingsport City Schools superintendent

Congratulations to United WE READ’s 2019 Camp Read to Lead Students!

United WE READ’s Camp Read to Lead just completed a fantastic third summer of growth! This exciting camp experience was funded by a partnership between Ballad Health Foundation and United Way of Greater Kingsport and hosted by Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport and Bloomingdale Baptist Church! Our 2019 theme of “Super Reader, Super Self!” focused on each child’s unique talents and strengths–including being great young readers!

Modeled around the successful statewide initiative, “Read to Be Ready,” United WE READ’s program seeks out over 60 students who were behind grade-level assessment in reading ability at the end of the spring semester. The program is structured for teachers to work in a close 5:1 ratio with students for two and a half hours per day over one month, and United WE READ uses the same pre and post-program assessment tools as the state initiative. Each rising 1st and 2nd grade student has an opportunity to gain a love for reading, confidence, improve literacy abilities, build a personal library of nearly 20 new books and other school supplies, and participate in weekly field-trips offering practical, real-world experiences.

In 2019, students showed, on average, a +11.2% gain in accuracy and comprehension over the four week program, and a +2.2% gain in areas such as motivation, value for reading, and self-concept as a reader (All assessments based on Read to Be Ready standardized questionnaire and passages). Additionally (and for the third year in a row),100% of regular attenders maintained or improved reading levels, achieving our goal to reduce the “summer slide” where students can fall behind during summer months.

3rd Annual Camp Read to Lead is Underway!


United WE READ’s Camp Read to Lead  is currently in operation for a 3rd summer of growth, is funded by a partnership between Ballad Health Foundation and United Way of Greater Kingsport, and is hosted by Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport and Bloomingdale Baptist Church! Our 2019 theme is “Super Reader, Super Self!” focusing on each child’s unique talents and strengths–including being great young readers!

Modeled around the successful statewide initiative, “Read to Be Ready,”  United WE READ’s program seeks out students who were behind grade-level assessment in reading ability at the end of the spring semester. The program is structured for teachers to work in a close 5:1 ratio with students for two and a half hours per day over one month, and United WE READ uses the same pre and post-program assessment tools as the state initiative. Each rising 1st and 2nd grade student has an opportunity to gain a love for reading, confidence, improve literacy abilities, build a personal library of 10-20 new books and other school supplies, and participate in weekly field-trips offering practical, real-world experiences.

In 2018, students showed, on average, a +16.5% gain in accuracy and comprehension over the four week program, and a +5.5% gain in areas such as motivation, value for reading, and self-concept as a reader (All assessments based on Read to Be Ready standardized questionnaire and passages). Additionally, 100% of regular attenders maintained or improved reading levels, achieving our goal to reduce the “summer slide” where students can fall behind during summer months. While we wait for this year’s exciting results, our students had some ideas on how adults can continue to help them: “Read to us.” “Read with us.” and “Listen to us read.”

Summertime – Road Trip Ideas

It’s summertime and that means many families will be hitting the road for trips, family visits, vacations, or even just the daily shuttling to camps and activities. ( Raise your hand if you’re taking a car ride with kids at any point this summer🖐🏽🖐🏿🖐🏼).

Why not make that car time valuable for brain building, interacting with kids, and keeping minds busy to avoid the dreaded, “Are we there yet?!” questions! We thought this list over on Trunki (an organization that is dedicated to “putting the breaks on tiring travel”!) was a great starting point!

Our United WE READ teachers especially love the “Holiday Journal” idea–all it takes is some blank paper, a little pre-planning, and lots of imagination!
Let’s keep kids reading, writing, listening, and speaking all summer long and fight the summer slide one car ride at a time!

View the ideas from Trunki here! And let us know what you plan to do in the comments below!

Thank you, Robin McClellan, for championing our students!

United WE READ is grateful for the many educators, leaders, and community members who pour into our students each and every day. On this #InternationalWomensDay, we wanted to give a special shout-out to longtime UWR Leadership Team member and champion for students, Dr. Robin McClellan of Sullivan County Department of Education. Recently, Dr. McClellan has been leading the district through a significant investment into the reading curriculum known as CKLA (Core Knowledge Language Arts). Through this transition, our students are already showing significant gains! A few highlights:

  • Just from fall 2018 to winter 2019, students with “at-risk” levels of reading proficiency have fallen from 37.8% to 29.9%!
  • That means 351 fewer 1st through 5th graders are considered at-risk in their reading skills!

We can’t wait to see more from Dr. McClellan, Sullivan County Department of Education, and the CKLA curriculum renaissance! To learn more about her work, check out these websites and articles where she has contributed or been featured:

“We Have A National Reading Crisis” in Education Week –By Jaren Myracle, Brian Kingsley, & Robin McClellan

“The Outcomes Stories We Should Be Talking About” on CurriculumMatters.org

“Sullivan’s Elementary Students Show ‘Historic’ Reading Improvements” in the Bristol Herald Courier

“Sullivan County Department of Education Announces Promising Academic Progress in Elementary Reading” on Sullivank12.net

Thank you, Dr. McClellan for engaging,  empowering, and equipping, all children, families, and our Greater Kingsport community with tools and strategies that build a literacy-rich culture, and a pathway to lifelong success!

Happy #InternationalWomensDay!

Read Across America – EVERY Day!

In celebration of Read Across America Day, United WE READ partnered this year with Roosevelt Elementary School in our local Kingsport City Schools district. We provided books and a grab-bag of items to promote our message which reminds students and families to Read 20 Minutes Every Day! All PreK through 5th grade students at Roosevelt Elementary received a new book for their personal home library and a United WE READ branded bookmark, highlighter, fridge magnet, and family brochure.

Read Across America is a celebration event begun by the National Education Association, and celebrates the birthday of beloved author, Dr. Seuss.

Check out these photos from United WE READ’s own celebration, and then read the Kingsport Times-News coverage of our event or  browse their online Read Across America gallery for more!

Thank you to Dr. Jeff Moorhouse, KCS Superintendent, and the many Roosevelt teachers and staff who planned and coordinated the event!

Local United Ways and Ballad Health Announce Early Grade Reading Partnership

United Way of Greater Kingsport and the United WE READ Initiative are excited to announce their participation in a regional partnership between Ballad Health and seven area United Ways.

With a $300,000 regional investment committed from the United Ways, Ballad Foundation, and Ballad Health employees, the momentum and support of this partnership ensures that United WE READ can continue to engage, empower, and equip all children, families, and the Greater Kingsport community with tools and strategies that build a literacy-rich culture, and a pathway to lifelong success, expanding on its successful programs and initiatives.

More can be read on the regional partnership through the stories that were reported via WJHL, Kingsport Times-News, and Bristol Herald Courier, among others.

Are you signed up for our newsletters so you hear the latest straight to your inbox? See the official United WE READ Newsletter announcement here, and sign up today!

Happy World Read Aloud Day!

We’ve been talking a lot lately about reading aloud, and today is no exception! 02/01/2019 is #WorldReadAloudDay, and what a perfect time to celebrate! The day was founded by LitWorld, and celebrates literacy as a basic human right–the belief that “everyone in the world should get to read and write”–and is also sponsored by Scholastic.

There are so many fantastic resources available to help your family or school celebrate reading aloud EVERY day, but here are just a few that we rounded up:

More World Read Aloud Day resources by Scholastic!

“Checklist for District Leaders” blog post by LitWorld founder, Pam Allyn

“The Rise of Read-Aloud” report by Scholastic on kid and family reading.

United WE READ’s own printable Read-Aloud questions to help you on your next family read-aloud!

Happy reading aloud! And always remember to Read 20 Minutes Every Day!

Reading Aloud

What books have you discovered from reading aloud as a family? Is there anything new that you’ve learned from reading a book that you might not have picked on your own?
Check out this great blog post from Mary Anne Health for The Journal, where she talks about reading with her two young children.

And remember, by reading just 20 minutes a day, children develop a larger vocabulary, a longer attention span, and better listening skills. Reading is a basic tool for success in school, work, and life.

#READ20 #ReadingtoLead #UnitedWEREAD

Keep Your Brain Active This Winter!

Families,

Our friends over at ThinkStretch.com have some fantastic resources to keep students’ brains active during winter! With fun activities, reading logs, STEM & science experiments, and more for every grade level, it’s a sure way to keep the winter boredom blues at bay! Check out their free downloadable packets here!