Friday, June 15, 2018

The Iowa Reading Research Center has been selected to serve as an external evaluator for a literacy project funded under a $27 million federal grant awarded to Kansas.

As part of the evaluation, the Iowa Reading Research Center will be collecting and analyzing data related to four outcomes identified by the Leavenworth Unified School District 453 and Atchison Unified School District 409:

  1. Impact on students’ literacy achievement
  2. Impact on teachers’ literacy knowledge and pedagogical practices
  3. Community outreach and participation
  4. Overall sustainability of the project

The Atchison and Leavenworth districts are working together as a consortium, one of eight grantees selected by the Kansas Department of Education’s (KSDE) Literacy Network of Kansas (LiNK), according to a news release. The overall initiative is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program.

The Iowa Reading Research Center also will be monitoring the Leavenworth and Atchison consortium’s adherence to project goals, tracking the effectiveness of various elements of the consortium’s program, and providing data-driven guidance and recommendations to the consortium over the program’s three-year duration. Each LiNK grantee developed its program based on local needs to advance literacy skills of children from birth through 12th grade and designed the components to help children become successful readers and writers, according to KSDE.

“We are excited to work with the consortium on this project,” said Iowa Reading Research Center Director Dr. Deborah K. Reed. “Our center’s literacy, research design, and statistical analysis expertise, as well as our experience working with multiple stakeholders on literacy initiatives, leaves us well positioned to provide the kind of comprehensive evaluation services needed for a project like LiNK.”

In addition to working directly with the Leavenworth and Atchison consortium, the Iowa Reading Research Center will be collaborating with the external evaluators of the seven other LiNK grantees to develop a set of common measures. According to KSDE, these measures will look to utilize community partnerships, implement locally-designed, scalable and sustainable literacy plans for all learners, including those considered to be disadvantaged, and provide data-driven professional learning.

“What we learn from our participation in LiNK can be applied to future projects of our own in Iowa or those in which we are involved,” Reed said. “It also provides an opportunity to demonstrate how the work of our Iowa-based center has an impact beyond one state’s borders.”

Implementation of the Leavenworth and Atchison consortium’s program will begin during the upcoming 2018-2019 school year and is anticipated to conclude in 2021.