Intentional Focus on Early Literacy Improves Reading Benchmarks
Waukee Community School District (WCSD) continues to rise above the state’s early literacy benchmarks. The Iowa Department of Education released 2017-18 kindergarten through third-grade district level FAST data on September 5, 2018. The results showed the number of WCSD students who met or surpassed reading benchmarks increased from 83 percent to 85.5 percent from fall 2017 to spring 2018. Statewide progress in reading increased from 69.7 percent to 70.5 percent from fall 2017 to spring 2018.
“Over the past several years, we have put an intentional focus on early literacy and foundational skills in both reading and writing. Our school improvement team, teacher leadership teams and district curriculum members have worked diligently to create supports for our teachers and students in the area of literacy,” said Ali Locker, director of teaching and learning.
Formative Assessment System for Teachers (FAST) is a suite of highly efficient assessment tools designed for universal screening, progress monitoring, and program evaluation as part of a Response to Intervention (RTI) or Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) model of service delivery.
Iowa school districts and nonpublic schools screen K-3 students in reading three times a year as part of a 2012 law that focuses on making sure all students are reading on grade level by the end of third grade. Through an early warning system developed by the Iowa Department of Education, area education agencies and school districts, teachers screen children’s reading skills, adapt instruction individually for students identified as at-risk and monitor their progress.
“Professional learning communities allow teachers to analyze student progress in literacy and determine next steps for learning. Our continued partnership with Heartland AEA has provided us access to additional literacy experts and resources that have supported this district effort in literacy,” Locker said.