Breakthrough Success Stories and Testimonials
In 2011, first-grade students in an urban school were experiencing learning challenges high-need students typically face.Using a variety of interventions, the school had been unable to achieve success closing the skill gap of these students.
Without a successful intervention, approximately 88% of children who cannot read at grade level in first grade never catch up (American Federation of Teachers, 2004). The school decided to try a new approach.
Partnering in a demonstration project with Cognitive First, our non-profit partner, the school implemented the Project PASS reading skills development program.
Within four months, training just 25 minutes per day, four days per week – 100% of the 31 students had achieved basic competency or above for the Common Core Reading Standard for phonemic awareness, the critical reading-readiness skill (Torgesen, 2002).
In April 2012, a nationally normed reading test verified that 83% (24 our of 29 students tested) were reading at or above grade level; 55% (16 our of 29 students) were reading above grade level.
Sr. Mary Ellen Schroeder, the lead educator overseeing implementation of the program at the school said, “In my 44 years of experience in education I have never seen a first-grade class achieve this level of proficiency, not ever.”
The principal of the school confirmed she, too, had never seen this kind of performance, as did the instructor of the class, who has had 15 years’ experience teaching at the school. “This first grade class had become the “most alive” class they had ever seen and the “most fully engaged in learning.” Students confidently attempt new challenges, listen attentively, sound out words on their own, choose books to read, and read with the teacher and each other.
The success of these first-grad students reversed the predicted trend – 83% who caught up before completion of first grade versus 88% who never catch up – confirming that high-need early learners can indeed keep pace with their peers if given proper training.
Other testimonials and reference materials: