Research shows that proficiency in reading by the end of third grade enables students to shift from learning to read to reading to learn, and to master the more complex subject matter they encounter in the fourth-grade curriculum. Most students who fail to reach this critical milestone falter in the later grades and often drop out before earning a high school diploma.
Starting Strong works to increase the percentage of Portland students scoring proficient or above on the beginning of fourth-grade reading assessment tests by focusing on three overarching strategies.
Expand access to training and professional development for staff supporting grade-level reading proficiency
Increase access to individualized literacy support programs for low-performing students
Engage and empower parents to support their child’s academic success
78% of students participating in Starting Strong’s Reading Partners program at Ocean Avenue School in Portland met or exceeded spring literacy benchmarks as assessed by the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Reading Assessment.
Specific PreK to 3rd Grade literacy initiatives include:
Opening the World of Learning (OWL) curriculum training
Reading Partners volunteer tutoring program for first graders
Literacy Kits for English Language Learner (ELL) families
In Fall 2015, Starting Strong developed its Reading Partners program at Ocean Avenue School in Portland. In this program, first-grade students who need extra reading support are matched with skilled volunteers to receive approximately 25 minutes of tutoring twice a week. Specifically, volunteers engage students in activities to support the literacy process, including sight word recognition, fluency practice, and comprehension.
Starting Strong’s first Reading Partners cohort included 25 students, 13 of whom were learning English. 78% of participating students met or exceeded spring literacy benchmarks as assessed by the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Reading Assessment. Today, Starting Strong and Portland Public Schools have expanded the Reading Partners program to Lyseth Elementary School.
Starting Strong is the early age component of Portland ConnectED, a community-wide partnership that works to ensure the success of every child from cradle to career.