All participating schools in the HIL Project are members of the Reading Now Network- a collective effort of school superintendents, school boards, and school districts from 20 West Michigan counties to improve early literacy and, ultimately, student achievement across all grade levels. Participating schools have made the commitment to implement the RNN findings and GELN Literacy Essentials.
Why "Reading Now"?
Education leaders throughout West Michigan understand the importance of developing talent that is career ready and college capable. While there are a variety of metrics (8th grade math achievement, ACT and NCRC scores, graduation rates) that help gauge success, no milestone may be more indicative of students' future achievement that their early reading proficiency. While good results on all commonly accepted metrics remain the mission, in no other area are the measures so reliable and valid, the prognosis for poor performance so clear, and the collective industry knowledge so deep.
That's why superintendents developed a collaborative initiative- the Reading Now Network- to ensure meeting Michigan's goal: a minimum 80% of third graders in all demographic groups read proficiently at grade level and that intervention strategies be systemically implemented for the 20% who, due to normal developmental differences, take a little longer.
Action Research Informs HIL Project Work
One of the first steps to achieving that goal was a study in which reading scores were analyzed for all elementary schools in RNN, and those that were outperforming similar schools were identified. A handful of those "outlier" schools were then selected for a field study. The Field Study Team, made up of curriculum experts from the ISDs in West Michigan, visited each of the outlier schools. The team found five elements these schools had in common, and compiled their findings for a Symposium held March 11, 2015. They call these common elements the Roots of Reading Success. These principles are at the heart of the work HIL Project cohort schools undertake.