REACH (Roots of Evanston ACHievement)

New in 2016-2017, Project REACH (Roots of Evanston ACHievement) provides unique and powerful resources to advance early literacy work aligned to the District 65 literacy framework, the District 65 Strategic Plan, D65/D202 Joint Literacy Goals, and Evanston Cradle to Career Goals. In 2016, only 54% of D65 students entered with ‘literacy readiness’ for kindergarten. This translates to a gap between peers that often remains consistent through 8th grade and beyond.

Jointly funded between Foundation 65 and District 65, the overall goal of REACH is to support an improved kindergarten experience and increase student achievement of K/1 students, with specific emphasis on those who enter school without the pre-literacy skills of their peers.

The REACH grant supports a research-based approach to developing students’ reading, writing, and speaking skills with job-embedded coaching. The power of the model is in the alignment and in the coaches themselves, who are District 65 teachers that know and understand the needs of our teachers and community.

This program gets to the basic skills of letter recognition, phonics, oral language development, and other skills needed for a strong start in kindergarten and beyond. This level of focus and intentional design of support for kindergarten and first grade teachers is new in District 65. In the past, literacy needs have been more broadly viewed from the K-3 level.

In its first year, 70% of all K/1 teachers opted in to one-on-one coaching, where an instructional coach works in-depth with teachers in class and out of class, over a period of several weeks.  And overall, more kindergarten and 1st grade students met reading benchmarks at year’s end in comparison with a 5-year baseline.  For Black kindergarteners, the percent meeting benchmarks rose significantly more than anticipated, 11.8% from 64.1% to 75.9%. For students who showed gaps in kindergarten readiness, the percent meeting benchmarks increased 7.8% over the 5-year baseline.