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Area Education Agencies Provide Support For Improved Student Reading

December 7, 2006

Across the state of Iowa, there are many efforts underway to help students be better readers. The eleven AEA’s, including the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency (AEA), across Iowa are working with the Iowa Department of Education to support improved reading K-12 for all students. The major areas are: Elementary Statewide Reading Team, Reading First, and the Adolescent Literacy Research and Development Team.

The primary purpose of the Mississippi Bend AEA Elementary Statewide Reading Team is to support schools in accelerating reading achievement at the elementary level. This includes supporting effective implementation of Iowa’s Reading First Plan.

More than 100 buildings are recipients of Reading First funds under the federal No Child Left Behind. These buildings and districts receive technical assistance from AEA staff through the delivery of professional development, conducting leadership meetings, providing demonstrations of strategies, and classroom observations of the literacy strategies in action. Many AEAs are also working with additional elementary buildings to improve and accelerate student reading.

The current Reading First buildings served by Mississippi Bend AEA are Roundy Elementary in Columbus CSD; and Buchanan Elementary, Buffalo Elementary, Fillmore Elementary, Jackson Elementary, Washington Elementary, and Wilson Elementary in Davenport CSD. There are additional elementary buildings receiving professional development utilizing the same materials. These include Durant Elementary in Durant CSD, Jefferson Elementary in Bettendorf CSD, Briggs Elementary in Maquoketa CSD, West Liberty Elementary in West Liberty CSD, and Louisa-Muscatine Elementary in Louisa-Muscatine CSD.

The Adolescent Literacy Research and Development Team has worked with Emily Calhoun to develop a plan for improving reading for the adolescents across the state of Iowa. The guiding principles include: linking with current efforts, following the Iowa Professional Development Model, establishing structured school improvement components, focusing on depth, not just breadth, emphasizing the important role of the teacher librarian, and insuring that the effort to improve is credible and doable.

Adolescent literacy efforts will include group investigation into a single strand of adolescent literacy accompanied by one or two years of professional development on selected instructional strategies. Depending upon a school’s need as identified through a review of data, professional development would address one or more of the following: Increasing Access to Print, Reading Volume, Read Alouds Across the Curriculum, Explicit Instruction in the area of Vocabulary, Reading Comprehension, and Composition Across Content Areas.

Sites in the Mississippi Bend ADA service area participating in the Adolescent Literacy Research and Development Team include Davenport Community School District, which includes 5 intermediate schools and three high schools. Some of the guiding principles set for in the statewide initiative are also core components of the Davenport Secondary Literacy Initiative. Following the Iowa Professional Development Model, establishing a structured school improvement design, linking the state wide Adolescent Literacy initiative with current district efforts are just a few examples of core components present in the Davenport Literacy Initiative.

West Liberty High School, West Middle School in Muscatine and Maquoketa Middle School are currently using the Think Aloud Comprehension strategy within all content areas to improve student comprehension. All Davenport secondary schools are currently using Read Alouds and the QAR (Question-Answer-Relationship) strategies in all curricular areas. Camanche Middle and High Schools are also support the QAR strategy in all subject areas.

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