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Connection with Minneapolis schools shows literacy outreach success

David O'BrienDeborah DillonProfessors Deborah Dillon and David O'Brien (Department of Curriculum and Instruction), received excellent news from the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) recently about the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) test results. Students who have been participating in a new reading program guided by the two professors showed marked improvement in their scores.

Dillon and O'Brien have been working with literacy leaders, teachers, and literacy coaches in MPS at the grade 6-8 level for the past several years, helping to implement a formal reading program targeted at middle school students who were not performing up to grade level in reading. Their efforts in professional development and meetings with district personnel were coupled with the MPS superintendent and alumna Bernadeia Johnson's (Ph.D., '11) commitment to hiring and educating a cadre of teachers who had specialization in reading. Specifically, the district helped support a collaboration with the CEHD Reading Licensure program. Literacy faculty taught the 15-credit series of licensure courses off site at the Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center to support the MPS teachers who work with middle school youth in the reading classes (and the literacy leaders who coach these educators).

Sixth graders who participated in the new reading program two years ago grew in their achievement significantly. The excellent growth in their reading scores on this particular MCA test is particularly impressive considering that the state test recently changed and became more challenging. Additionally, students from the Native American, African American, and Asian student groups all increased in performance levels.

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