For one Conn. school, early literacy is key to closing the achievement gapPosted: March 15, 2013 In his budget proposal last month, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy affirmed his commitment to push forward with education reform. “Quality early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make to close our achievement gap,” he said. That follows last year’s expansion of early education initiatives and the state’s adoption of national education standards. Malloy says he hopes to close the state’s achievement gap through these ongoing reforms and a proposed $152 million increase in education spending. $12 million of that funding would go to Waterbury Public Schools, where one school is making strides with the achievement gap through early literacy.
Here’s Will Stone’s story on Kingsbury Elementary School in Waterbury:
In 2011, the difference in reading between low-income fourth graders and their wealthier peers in the state was 35 points. And that same margin exists between white students and Hispanic and African-American students. But at Kingsbury Elementary, the picture is much different.
“Right now there is very small very small gap between the Hispanic white and black population,” says Principal Pamela Baim. “If you’re looking at every child and their need, the disparity should be very small, and that’s what we’re finding here.”
The school places students in tiers according to very specific criteria, such as oral fluency, and transition students to more challenging tiers as they show improvement. Teachers also spend hours training with the school’s team of reading specialists. They rely heavily on data and diagnostic tests, using a tiered system, and addressing literacy across the curriculum. And they say it’s helping closing the gap.