Janes Year-Round Elementary School, Wisconsin's first year-round school, is one of 16 state to receive a Reading Best Practices Model Site grant. The 17 schools will draw from a pool of slightly over $3 million for this professional development initiative. In June, 21st Century Preparatory School announced that it had received a similar $216,000 grant.
Starting in 2003, the Reading First program has focused on closing the achievement gap between disadvantaged K-3 students and their peers by helping all students become proficient readers by third grade. Among its strengths was a requirement that all K-3 teachers and principals in the state's 60 participating Reading First schools receive at least 36 hours of reading-related training each year.
Wisconsin's original grant also declared the state's intent to share best practices from Reading First classrooms with non-Reading First schools. Teachers in those schools will attend four one-day workshops and then visit Reading First classrooms to observe teachers implementing those best practices. A follow-up discussion will help visiting teachers understand what they observed and how each best practice is employed.
Janes Year-Round teachers have agreed to be observed several times in Winter/Spring 2010. Best practices include delivery of a core-reading program; a focus on the five elements (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension); 90 minutes of reading instruction; an additional 30 minutes of reading interventions/supplements; screening, diagnostic, and progress-monitoring assessments; data retreats and data-driven decision making, among others.