The Hamilton County Schools Opportunity Zone elementary schools are partnering with Read 20 to inspire reading success and celebrate the reading accomplishments of children. The new partnership kicked off at Orchard Knob Elementary School on Wednesday as first-graders who had increased a level or more in reading were recognized at an “I Jumped a Level” recognition at the school.
As part of the recognition program, children making sufficient progress to move up a reading level received an “I Jumped a Level” sticker. The children also signed a large “I Jumped a Level” banner that hangs in the front lobby of Orchard Knob.
A similar recognition will take place at each Opportunity Zone school. Community partners and political leaders joined with teachers and administrators from Orchard Knob Elementary to honor the reading success of their young children.
“We want to acknowledge and celebrate the reading progress that is taking place in each of our Opportunity Zone schools due to the hard work of our teachers and the implementation of both guided reading and a new reading intervention model,” says Jill Levine, chief of the Opportunity Zone.
Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson, school board members Karitsa Mosley Jones and Tiffanie Robinson, Opportunity Zone Chief Jill Levine and Read 20 Chief Reading Officer Shawn Kurrelmeier-Lee joined the celebration of reading success and helped to present the stickers to the children. LaFrederick Thirkill, principal of Orchard Knob, encouraged the children to wear their new stickers proudly. He said, "Wear these stickers all day and be proud of your reading accomplishment.”
A new focused reading program is providing promising early success at Orchard Knob and other Opportunity Zone schools. Looking at the same children’s reading progress over time at Orchard Knob shows that 58 percent of first-graders at the school are reading at or above grade level at the mid-point of the school year. Last year in kindergarten, 51 percent of those children were reading at or above grade level. Also, comparing last year’s first-graders to this year’s group there is a significant difference. At the mid-year point for last year’s first-grade children, only 43 percent were reading at or above grade level.
The early data is promising for the R.I.S.E. reading program across the Opportunity Zone schools and that is exciting for success not only in reading but other subjects dependent on a child’s ability to read and comprehend, said officials. Social studies, science, math and even success on standardized testing can be impacted by reading ability.
R.I.S.E. will now be complemented by the Read 20 program in the Opportunity Zone to encourage children to even larger gains. Read 20’s mission as a public/private partnership was born out of the Chattanooga area’s efforts to boost education and literacy. The program is dedicated to creating a strong community of readers by promoting literacy skills and the importance of reading with children at least 20 minutes a day or more. Read 20 aims to cultivate a love of reading through working with parents, grandparents, early childhood education professionals and community leaders to read to children.