Something wonderful is happening in dozens of Milwaukee classrooms; Kids are learning to read at a much higher level and faster pace than in years past! We know reading by third grade is critical to future success; but, only 16 percent of Milwaukee third graders are reading proficiently. The partners involved in Milwaukee Succeeds have collaborated to develop a model for achieving reading proficiency by third grade called Transformative Reading Instruction (TRI). TRI is being piloted at seven schools across Milwaukee.
One pilot school, Forest Home Avenue School, is located on the south side in a predominantly Latino neighborhood. Mrs. Reinert, a kindergarten teacher at Forest Home (at the table in the picture), observed noticeable gains among her TRI students between fall and winter on their early reading literacy assessments. In the past 4 months, Reinert’s TRI students moved from “below” average to “above” or “exceedingly above” average, which are outstanding results. Reinert believes the teacher coaching and the small group instruction are making a huge difference for her students. Her colleagues agree.
TRI also depends on evidence-based 1:1 tutoring. At any given time, Wisconsin Reading Corps (WRC) provides 1:1 tutoring for 34 students at Forest Home. Citywide, WRC has provided tutoring to 319 students since mid-September 2015. Of the 319 students, 12 percent are now reading at grade-level, whereas none of them were when the tutoring began. WRC will serve 450 Milwaukee children this academic year.
Add in parent engagement and experiential learning opportunities at the school level, TRI is creating a wave of children experiencing reading success. Back in Mrs. Reinert’s kindergarten room, the Student Support Teacher, Beth Berndt, serves as an observer and coach to Reinert. Berndt watches as students excitedly work through exercises in foundational skills. An animated student, Harry (with Mrs. Reinert in the picture), surpassed his prior score on a timed test, reading letter after letter on an exercise called “Word Worm.” Harry exclaimed, “I’m Really getting Smarter and Smarter!”
What a great success story! This is part of my “scale up” challenge that I referenced in our 2015 Milestone Report Executive Summary. We will bring TRI to more Milwaukee Public Schools, Charter and Choice schools over the next 2-3 years. I know we can do it, and this will put us on track to achieving our goal of being among the top cities for 3rd grade reading by 2020.
See you soon, and stay warm this week!
Danae Davis | Executive Director
101 W. Pleasant St., Suite 210, Milwaukee, WI 53212