learn / 2015

Reading Partners LA: The Path to Fourth Grade Reading Proficiency for 1000 Children

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Reading Partners

Reading Partners plans to expand our core program in LA County and deepen local impact on fourth grade literacy achievement. In 2015-16, we have already expanded from eight to ten school partners, reaching at least 575 students with the support of 850 volunteers. By 2017, we intend to partner with an additional four to six new school sites, doubling our reach from 500 to 1,000 children in Los Angeles area Title I schools.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • San Gabriel Valley
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles
  • LAUSD
  • Our current ten school partners are located in Pasadena, Mid-City LA, Santa Monica, and Lawndale. We are currently reaching out to new prospective partners where we hope to identify an additional four to six schools to collaborate with by 2016-17.

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Expand a pilot or a program
  • Mobilize for systems change

How will your proposal improve the following “Learn” metrics?

  • Percentage of children enrolled in early education programs
  • Academic Performance Index* scores
  • Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher ed

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to learn.

Celebrating seven years in LA, Reading Partners looks forward to continuing to empower local communities to invest in the education of our youth by extending our proven early literacy intervention program to substantially more students throughout the county. We envision that all children will have the necessary literacy skills they need by fourth grade to achieve their fullest potential by leveraging the capacity of communities to close the achievement gap for struggling readers. To move toward this goal, we have two primary objectives:

  1. We will serve a much larger proportion of children in our current service areas. This school year, we have already increased participant density by expanding from eight to ten schools and serving 575 youth—a 25% increase in school partnerships from 2014-15.

  2. We will begin a strategic, major expansion of services set over the next two years. This will include identifying a new community where we will serve an additional four to six schools and 250-360 students, doubling our reach from 500 to 1,000 children by 2017.

To ensure LA is the best place to learn, Reading Partners will continue to mobilize local schools, districts, and communities to catalyze change and become advocates for educational opportunities in their neighborhoods. We intentionally partner with Title I schools with a high percentage of low-income students where tailored intervention resources are in short supply despite students’ high needs. With a structured, research-based curriculum that requires no prior experience, we transform any volunteer into a high-quality instructor, enabling us to reach hundreds more children and increase the capacity of public schools. Our efforts also focus on young K-4 students early in their school careers to maximize the amount of instruction they receive before their achievement gap widens, ensuring that as many students possible are reaching proficiency by fourth grade.

With 49% of low-income fourth graders reading below grade-level in LA County, thousands of children are at-risk of losing out on a more prosperous future that a strong education enables, and strong reading skills are especially important for children growing up in low-income communities where academic success is a critical pathway out of poverty. We are proud of our innovative and proven program model that harnesses the power of community service to provide an effective, affordable, and community-driven solution to the literacy crisis.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

Data collection and analysis is a core feature of Reading Partners’ program. To thoroughly evaluate students’ skills, we gather three sources of data. First, we collect results from research-based, elementary literacy assessment tools–STAR Early Literacy and STAR Early Reading. Both assessments provide growth targets for students that correspond to grade-level benchmarks. Our programmatic targets are also based on students’ reaching benchmarks tied to grade-level expectations. Second, we collect state standardized test scores and school-based evaluations to give us a more comprehensive picture of how students are doing relative to state English Language Arts standards. Finally, we gather impact data on improvements in students’ reading, self-confidence, and classroom participation through twice-annual teacher, principal, and tutor surveys. Together, these assessments enable us to benchmark students’ reading at enrollment, progress monitor and course-correct, and record overall growth.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support