School superintendents from 20 West Michigan counties have formed the Reading Now Network (RNN) – a collective effort of superintendents, school boards and school districts throughout West Michigan to improve early literacy and, ultimately, student achievement across all grade levels.
Education leaders throughout West Michigan understand the importance of developing talent that is career ready and college capable. While there are a variety of metrics (8th grade math achievement, ACT and NCRC scores, graduation rates) that help gauge success, no milestone may be more indicative of students’ future achievement than their early reading proficiency. While good results on all commonly accepted metrics remain the mission, in no other area are the measures so reliable and valid, the prognosis for poor performance so clear, and the collective industry knowledge so deep.
That’s why superintendents developed a collaborative initiative – the Reading Now Network – to ensure meeting Michigan’s goal: a minimum 80% of third graders in all demographic groups read proficiently at grade level and that intervention strategies be systemically implemented for the 20% who, due to normal developmental differences, take a little longer.
One of the first steps to achieving that goal was a study in which reading scores were analyzed for all elementary schools in RNN, and those that were outperforming similar schools were identified. A handful of those “outlier” schools were then selected for a field study. The Field Study Team, made up of curriculum experts from the ISDs in West Michigan, visited each of the outlier schools.
The team found five elements these schools had in common, and compiled their findings for a Symposium held March 11, 2015. They call these common elements the Roots of Reading Success and share them here for all interested schools. Below are links to a series of professional videos filmed in the schools and taped segments from the Symposium’s live panel discussions, along with a valuable reflection tool for self-study and additional resources.
Brief Opener Video
A brief (1 ½ min. ), attention-grabbing opener video for presenting the RNN Study Findings to a new audience, hosted by REMC Association of Michigan. Ideal for opening a PD session or large audience about RNN. This was designed solely to pique audience interest ahead of a presentation, not to provide content.
Reading Now Network Videos
RNN PDF of a PowerPoint— This presentation details results of the field study and the process used.
Slides 1 to 22 – Overview of the Study
Slides 13 to 66 – Building Results
Slides 67 to 72 – 5 Overall Findings
Slides 73 to 77 – What It’s Not About
Slides 78 to 83 – Research Connections
3-2-1 Card— The 3-2-1 card can be used as part of staff training to gather feedback on the training as well as serve as a reminder to the participant of what they learned and what action they want to take as a result of the training. These can be collected and then mailed/returned to the learner after the event to keep the learning fresh in their mind.
Reading Now Network Reflection Tool— This can be used in conjunction with the posted videos to help facilitate conversation around each of the 5 findings.
This template is provided to help reflect on the 5 findings from the RNN’s study of schools in the West Michigan area that outperformed their peers when controlling for poverty. The buildings in the study have managed to overcome the knowing-doing gap and implement these 5 things in a deep way.
This tool could be used by leadership teams, professional learning communities, or school improvement teams to assess strengths in these 5 areas. Use this tool to consider implementation drivers during reflection: capacity (selection, training, coaching), leadership (technical and adaptive) and organization (systems, facilitative administration, decision/data support). After capturing school strengths, begin to think of how to move students to the next level.
- Taking Competition Out of Our Game: Every Child Can Win This Game (PDF of a Power Point presentation), Kyle Mayer, Ph.D. and Peter Haines (MASA Midwinter Conference)
Summer Reading Resources:
Research shows that students often experience significant reading loss during summer vacation. The RNN summer reading resources were created in order to provide parents with some simple, fun, strategies to help prevent summer reading loss. The resources are based on existing, well-established research on “summer slide” and strategies suggested by five of the network’s schools who have been identified as out-performing expectations based on student demographics in 3rd grade MEAP reading achievement.
6 Make It Stick Flyer
In The News
WMU receives $12.5 million grant for development of leadership among high poverty schools
(The Peninsula) October 16, 2017
WMU gets $12.5M to foster leaders at low-income schools
(The Detroit News) October 10, 2017
WMU researchers get $12.5 million grant for school leadership renewal
(WMU News) October 10, 2017
Nearly 5,000 books donated to Muskegon school to improve early literacy
(mLive) February 24, 2017
Michigan School Leaders Plot How to Improve Elementary Reading Proficiency
(mLive) March 10, 2015
Why Are Some Schools High Achievers in Reading?
(School News Network) March 17, 2015
Press Conference Launches Reading Now Network Initiative
(School News Network) April 1, 2014
West Michigan School Superintendents React to Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State Address
(mLive) January 20, 2015
Superintendents Join Forces to Improve Regional Reading Scores
(School News Network) February 4, 2014
For more information, contact the RNN educators by email at ReadingNowNetwork@gmail.com