When we began with CLI in 2004, 49% of our children met our benchmarks in literacy at the end of kindergarten. Over the next 3 years, we gradually involved every kindergarten classroom, special education, and ESOL teacher in a structured program of CLI professional development, with the result that last year, 81% of our children met the exit benchmark. With CLI’s help, we built a more coherent curriculum, and we have embedded exemplary practice.
Children’s Literacy Initiative works in classrooms in low-income neighborhoods to ensure that teachers deliver expert literacy instruction to children considered at risk for learning to read and write. We collaborate with school districts in a wide range of cities to provide professional development and high-quality books to pre-kindergarten through third grade teachers.
Although an undisputed body of educational research shows that teaching quality can account for over 90% of the variation in literacy achievement, our country’s teachers are not equipped with the instructional strategies needed to close the literacy gap that flattens the academic trajectory of so many children.
The results of this failure are all around us. However, the good news is that when instruction improves, children will learn how to read.
What makes our approach so effective?
Research shows that teacher quality is the lever that raises student achievement. We help teachers use research-based instructional practices to overcome what is often a disconnect between teaching and student learning. Our professional development program is unique in providing teachers with the tools they need to put newly learned strategies into practice: large collections of high-quality children’s books for reading aloud, for individual reading, and for home lending.
We change teachers’ knowledge
First, teachers attend CLI’s intensive 3-day Institute to expand their knowledge in literacy instruction: Intentional Read Alouds, Writing, Message Time Plus®, Classroom Environment, and Small Group Learning. Later in the year, full-day seminars are offered to deepen the understanding of these and other subjects.
We change teachers’ beliefs
Guided by CLI Professional Developers, who are experts in early literacy instruction, teachers visit Model Classrooms where they observe exemplary practices in a high-quality literacy environment with low-income students like their own. Visits raise expectations for what children can accomplish and also increase the teachers’ instructional knowledge.
We change teachers’ practice
We follow trainings with individualized, on-the-job coaching sessions for teachers over an extended period of time. This helps the teacher bring unfamiliar strategies out of the theoretical realm and into habitual practice. Together, the teachers and CLI Professional Developers work to plan and implement lessons. Effective teaching methods and behaviors are modeled by the Professional Developer and are gradually emulated by the teacher. We also help teachers transform their classrooms into literacy-rich environments, where students can work independently and have ready access to large collections of books.
Children's Literacy Initiative has an experienced and highly qualified staff that has worked with large urban clients as well as individual schools. Our Professional Developers, 90% of whom hold masters degrees, are based in various cities and meet continually to strengthen their own professional development.
We have created over 130 Model Classrooms in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Boston, White Plains (NY), Camden, Plainfield and Vineland (NJ), and Washington, DC.