It’s not always easy as ABC. Youngsters may know how to sing the alphabet, sound out letters, and even how to spell a few words, but a fragmented understanding of the basics does not help them read efficiently. Combine that with the “30-million-word gap” that many children—especially those from low-income families—bring with them into kindergarten, and students instantly fall behind when they’re just getting started.
Drawing on decades of results, Reading Recovery is a proven formula to help catch up elementary students who struggle the most with reading and writing. 30 minutes a day, four days a week, select students work one-on-one with a trained teacher through specialized reading instruction. Participants are taught through a concentrated and multisensory approach, designed around the way children learn naturally in life.
Data from more than 2.2 million students across the country consistently show its benefits for students and schools: 75% of students achieve at grade-level standards after a full series of lessons.
In 2015, Sarasota County School District officials and philanthropist Keith Monda were strategizing ways to address the 35% of third-grade students who were not reading on grade level. Monda, who supported the national implementation of Reading Recovery through the Ohio State University, had the vision to introduce our region to the program.
Partnering with Barancik Foundation and Gulf Coast Community Foundation, a pilot was launched at three Title 1 elementary schools. The first year saw incredible success, seeing 85% of participating students reach average grade level following the series of lessons. Fast forward to today and all 23 elementary schools have at least one Reading Recovery teacher on staff—all covered through Title 1 funding.
“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
– Ignacio Estrada
To move the needle for children, you must invest in the most significant factor in student success: their teacher. The implementation of Reading Recovery in Sarasota County involved teacher buy-in and feedback every step of the way. Not only did teachers receive specialized professional development instruction, they regularly convened to train together, share discoveries, and celebrate results.
Schools are already seeing the capacity-building power of the program. Reading Recovery teachers collaborated to create an effective multisensory literacy tool kit that combines listening, speaking, reading, and kinesthetic activity—all with the intent to engage students with curriculum in more than one way. In 2019 Barancik Foundation funding purchased supplies to create 341 multisensory literacy kits to be used in all kindergarten and first grade classrooms.