​Reading and Achieving

SPPN Students Begin to Turn the Curve on 3rd Grade Reading

Something amazing is brewing in the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood: a quiet but fierce education transformation. After a few years of focusing our strategy, SPPN is proud to share that our collective efforts with partners, schools, and families are yielding amazing results!
Across the state and country, many funders and academic institutions are paying attention to 3rd grade reading scores. Students in SPPN partner schools have made strong gains in reading from 2013 to 2014 on the state standardized assessments, gaining +8% at Jackson, +4% at Maxfield, and +3% at Saint Paul City School. These gains are even more impressive when you compare them to the +1% gains across Saint Paul Public Schools and the state. Considering how slow and challenging it is to achieve school level change, we’re incredibly proud of the progress our children are making when given access to high-quality academic opportunities both in and outside the classroom.
 Third Grade Reading-graphic.jpgThird grade reading is a research-backed, predictive academic indicator of high school graduation, future earning potential, and life success. Students who are not proficient in 3rd grade reading are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than their reading-proficient counterparts. There is an undeniable connection between high school graduation rates and incarceration rates since nearly 80% of individuals in prison do not have a high school diploma. As early as 3rd grade, we begin to understand how the school-to-prison pipeline is developing.

SPPN's Strategy

SPPN is working closely with partners and families to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline, and instead, create a cradle-to-career pipeline.  We’re working toward achieving school-level changes by ensuring that our children are getting the right mix of high-quality programs, interventions, and other opportunities to help them succeed. Here are some of the elements of SPPN’s winning strategy:
● We support children early: To date, 347 kids received early learning scholarships, setting them on the path to kindergarten readiness. Once deemed the best ROI for the state of Minnesota, access to quality early childhood learning continues to give our children the best shot at success.
● We coordinate our 3rd grade reading partners to weave a strong literacy system wrapped around the schools and the children:  We don’t leave our children’s future to chance, particularly since 3rd grade reading is so critical to long-term academic and life success. We offer a coordinated set of culturally-based reading programs to supplement core instruction received during the school day. By coordinating partners, we are ensuring the right kids are in the right place at the right time. Ninety-eight percent of children enrolled in these programs have maintained or increased their 3rd grade reading proficiency rates.
● We keep students engaged during the summer months: Since we know that access to literacy-rich programs and books can prevent the impact of summer learning loss, SPPN partners with schools and other local organizations to ensure that Promise Neighborhood students have access to an array of summer programs so they not only retain the knowledge they gained during the school year, but they also get ahead in school and life. Last summer, 96% of Freedom School program participants maintained or improved their reading level, preventing the summer slide – a contributor to the education opportunity gap. We are planning a Summer Soar that will reach nearly 1,000 children this summer across the neighborhood! Stay tuned.
● We support students' resiliency and confidence through a culturally-responsive learning lens: We use culturally-responsive lenses and practices to support effective, sustainable change and to ensure that children and families own the work and their success. We know that supporting the cultural identity and resilience of students is increasingly linked to academic success, but, for us, supporting student’s cultural identity and resilience isn’t merely a gap-closing tactic or innovation. Rather, it’s at the center of our theory of change. We firmly believe that our children’s cultural identities should be embraced, acknowledged, and celebrated. 
● And we provide wraparound supports to children and families to stabilize their lives: Our highly successful family engagement approach called the “navigation system” supports the whole child and their family. SPPN’s parent engagement strategy focuses on ensuring parents have the tools and opportunities needed to transform their own and their children’s lives. SPPN also addresses root causes of the education opportunity gap by focusing on family and community supports that address social determinants of education, such as health and housing. Taking a two-generation approach, SPPN is working with both parents and children to foster stability, self-efficacy, and academic success.

Accelerating Our Impact

We’re proud of the progress our students are making, but our work is not done. In fact, we’re more driven than ever to accelerate our impact and reach more children in the neighborhood. Our goal is to turn the curve by reaching an 80%+ graduation rate by 2025 when the majority of our elementary-age children will begin graduating and close the opportunity gap for good.

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