Improving Early Literacy Outcomes
Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK), a home-based, kindergarten readiness program for three and four-year old children, focuses on helping pre-school age children become ready for kindergarten by helping parents in their role as their child's first teacher. The program provides individual in-home tutoring sessions with parent partners, lessons and activities based on Ohio Early Learning Content Standards, educational supplies, health screenings, assessments and referrals, and assistance with the transition to kindergarten.
The Literacy Cooperative is collaborating with Family Connections to pilot SPARK in the following school buildings: Clark, George Washington Carver, Mound and Clara E. Westropp schools in Cleveland; Boulevard, Oxford, and Noble schools in Cleveland Heights and Abraham Lincoln Elementary in Maple Heights. The program is funded by the Abington, Cleveland, George Gund, Martha Holden Jennings, PNC, Stocker, and Third Federal Foundations and the United Way of Greater Cleveland.
SPARK is an initiative of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and is currently offered in seven counties in Ohio. SPARK Cuyahoga program services are provided under the umbrella of Invest in Children, Cuyahoga County's public-private partnership serving young children and families.
To view the SPARK brochure, click here.
To view the SPARK Ohio Summer 2013 Newsletter, click here.
STEP (Supporting Tutors Engaging Pupils) is a structured tutoring program designed to help build reading and language skills in K-3 students who are below grade level. The goal of STEP is to provide skill-based instruction to improve literacy outcomes by helping students acquire the skills necessary for literacy success.
STEP uses a combination of two research based programs: Ready Readers and Book Buddies. Ready Readers are books with skill based text designed to address the individual needs and abilities of each child. Book Buddies provides the structure for one-on-one, scripted lessons based on assessment. Students receive structured lessons consisting of both re-reading and new reading, word play (phonics) and a writing exercise to practice the phonics skills learned during the lesson. Tutors follow a scripted, research based, four-part lesson plan that supports the development of fluency (through re-reading), vocabulary development, comprehension and word knowledge (through reading new text), alphabetic principle and decoding skills (phonics activities) and writing (writing activities). Lessons are delivered for thirty minutes twice a week. Each participating child is assessed to determine appropriate placement in the scope and sequence associated with the program and is assessed at regular intervals to ensure he/she receives individualized support to address specific learning gaps.
Given the documented importance of learning to read, a pilot of STEP was launched, beginning with first grade students at Marion-Sterling School in Cleveland during the 2010-2011 school year. The lesson plans are scripted so tutors with no background in education can deliver a comprehensive and meaningful instructional lesson. Tutors provide ongoing feedback after each lesson through a journaling system and children are monitored to be sure lessons are delivered at the appropriate skill level (emergent, beginner, or fluent).
Following the pilot, STEP will be evaluated as an effective intervention. If the intervention proves effective, The Literacy Cooperative's goal is to make it widely available for use by school-based tutoring agencies across the county.