LEARN Charter School Network Charter Proposal for Chicago Heights School District 170

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1 LEARN Charter School Network Charter Proposal for Chicago Heights School District 170 December 15, 2014

2 Table of Contents Executive Summary Introduction I. Mission and Core Values Local Needs Assessment Local Education Assets Student Achievement Local Education Challenges and Needs The Benefit of a LEARN Charter School Drivers of Success Education Plan The Curriculum and Instructional Approach Curriculum: Evidence of Effectiveness Meeting the Needs of All Learners a. Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners b. Support for Accelerated Students c. Meeting the Needs of Students with Disabilities d. Meeting the Needs of Students Who Require Extended Year Services Meeting Students' Social and Emotional Needs a. Student Support Services Team b. Multi-Tiered System of Supports Assessment and Data-Driven Instruction Academic Goals School Culture and Climate School Calendar and Daily Schedule School Policies a. Student Code of Conduct b. School Safety c. Promotion/Retention Professional Development a. Induction Period b. Professional Learning Schedule and Plan c. Network-Based Professional Development d. Professional Learning Program Evaluation e. Teacher Evaluation f. Developing Teacher Leaders Student Recruitment a. Student Recruitment Strategy b. Admissions Policy

3 Leadership, Oversight, Staffing & Operations T 1. Design Team Capacity Board of Directors a. Board Structure b. Board Members Staffing Model Staff Recruitment Hiring Process School Operations Leadership Network Operation Support to Schools Operations Support to Schools from Outside Providers Technology Insurance and Liability Operations Management Timeline Community Involvement Community Partnerships Parent Advisory Council Parental Involvement Plan Local Hiring Facilities FACILITIES 1. Potential Sites ADA Accessibility Financials Business and Foundation Partners Internal Financial Controls Budget

4 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY LEARN Charter School Network, an Illinois 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is a proven provider of K-8 college preparatory education for traditionally underserved students, enrolling primarily minority and low-income children. Our first school opened in 2001, and we now operate eight elementary and middle schools in the Chicago area, including in the city of North Chicago. Of the 3,600 students currently enrolled in our schools, 89% are low-income, 89% are African American, and 9% are Hispanic. We hope to partner with Chicago Heights District 170 in creating a K-8 school that provides a new, high-quality option for families while also accelerating student achievement for the district as a whole. Mission & Results The mission of LEARN Charter School Network ( LEARN ) is to provide children with the academic foundation and ambition to earn a college degree. We choose to focus specifically on elementary education (K-8) because we believe that the ambition and academic foundation for college must be sown and cultivated early in a child s academic career. We believe that students racial, ethnic or economic background should not predict their academic achievement, and our academic results bear out this belief. LEARN s Hispanic, low-income, limited English proficient, and African American students are significantly outperforming the state average for their peers in each of these subgroups. Our most important outcomes, however, are those that are directly aligned to our mission as a college preparatory elementary school: high school success and college enrollment. To ensure that we are achieving these outcomes, we track LEARN alumni throughout high school and college. Our results to date are strong: 95% of LEARN alumni graduate from high school, and 95% of LEARN alumni attend college, with 71% enrolling in 4-year colleges or universities and 24% enrolling first in 2-year colleges. Drivers of Success The following drivers have been critical to our success in achieving our college preparatory mission: Student Support Services. To ensure that students' social and emotional needs are addressed so that barriers to learning are removed, LEARN provides extensive support services with a socialworker or counselor based at each site, as well as a network-wide team of specialists. Each of our schools also follows a social and emotional learning curriculum that explicitly teaches students skills such as managing conflicts and emotions, working as a team, building respectful relationships, and making responsible decisions. Talent. LEARN receives approximately 3,000 applications and interviews over 1,000 candidates each year to select the best instructors and leaders for the schools within the Network. Our Network recruits top talent from local, regional, and national education partners and universities. We seek out and hire exceptional teachers because we know that teachers have a greater impact on student success than any other factor in a school. Low Student-to-Teacher Ratio. We intentionally keep classes small (typically ranging from 20 to 25) in order to provide individualized and differentiated instruction to our students. 4

5 Longer and More School Days. We provide an extended school day (8:30 am to 4:00 pm) and an extended school year, with only a six week summer break, to ensure that our students have sufficient time for instruction in core subjects, as well as enrichment classes. Rigorous Academic Program. In order to prepare students for college preparatory high schools, we provide a rigorous academic program, differentiated to serve the needs of all children, including those significantly below grade level and advanced scholars who need additional challenges or acceleration. Strong Management Support. As an established charter school network, we are able to provide each new campus with solid and extensive support for all aspects of the school s academic, socialemotional, and operational needs. An analysis released by the Civic Federation in October 2014 uses 13 indicators of financial condition to provide a snapshot of the fiscal health of four Chicago Charter schools or networks between fiscal years 2007 and The analysis indicated strong fiscal health for the LEARN Charter School Network. 1 Education Plan We believe that all children can excel when provided with a high-quality curriculum, high-expectations, and engaging lessons tailored to their individual level, combined with individualized support. We have selected from the best research-based programs and emphasize project-based instruction that guides students to ask relevant, deep questions and apply their findings to the real world. In math and language arts, students receive small group instruction tailored to their instructional level or their needs with respect to a specific skill or concept. Student progress is continually monitored and students are regrouped or singled out for individual help from the classroom teacher or an Academic Interventionist to ensure that all are appropriately challenged and supported. Those with special needs are evaluated by an intervention team and provided with additional academic, health, and social/emotional services. Within our academic program, LEARN places a special emphasis on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills so in demand in today's economy. In addition to small-group STEM projects, students in grades 5-8 attend one or two additional 45 minute STEM classes per week with hands-on projects in engineering and robotics. These classes provide an additional opportunity to apply their math and science learning and also make connections to careers. Beyond core academic subjects, students receive four enrichment classes weekly in visual and performing arts, technology, physical education and Spanish. Community Need In the spring of 2014, LEARN partnered with the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) to conduct a needs assessment of communities in the Chicagoland area, in order to identify communities with a need for and an interest in a LEARN Charter School. This assessment analyzed communities based on academic achievement and school district size in addition to qualitative input from local stakeholders 1 The Civic Federation, "The Financial Viability of Chicago Charter Schools: Financial Analysis of Selected Chicago Charter Schools," October 2014, (accessed November 12, 2014). 5

6 and residents, including local pastors, retired educators, elected officials and area business leaders. LEARN subsequently reached out to and met with Superintendent Amadio, along with other District 170 officials, and conducted additional outreach to Chicago Heights residents and local organizations. We also conducted canvassing to further assess the level of community interest in a Chicago Heights campus of LEARN Charter School. In addition to concerns about student performance at some district schools, parents and community members highlighted the following challenges and needs with respect to education in Chicago Heights: A lower student-to-teacher ratio and more individualized instruction for students A need to provide excellent programming and instruction for students transferring during the school year (student mobility) A lack of skilled workers to fill positions in STEM fields, such as mid-level manufacturing jobs which require computer technology skills and experience District 170 is already providing families with options, such as a STEM magnet school. We believe that a LEARN charter school in Chicago Heights would provide another vital option for families and would strengthen the district as a whole. A LEARN charter school would help the district to improve student achievement in all student subgroups in grades K-8 and increase the number of students who are prepared for rigorous college preparatory coursework at the high school level. It could also yield opportunities for professional development and the mutual sharing of best practices to improve education for all students. 6

7 INTRODUCTION 1. Mission and Core Values The mission of LEARN Charter School Network ( LEARN ) is to provide children, especially low-income students and students of color who have been historically underserved in American schools, with the academic foundation and ambition to earn a college degree. We know that students, regardless of race, income or circumstance, who attend a college preparatory high school and graduate from college, are far more capable of securing quality employment, leading fulfilling lives, improving their communities and becoming productive citizens of society. We choose to focus specifically on elementary education (K-8) because we believe that the ambition and academic foundation for college must be sown and cultivated early in a child s academic career. LEARN s educational program is guided by five Core Values that define and shape the culture and environment at all LEARN schools and that we believe are essential in propelling our students forward. These are (1) Culture of Respect, (2) High Expectations, (3) Safe and Nurturing Environment, (4) Focus on the Whole Child, (5) Family Involvement. Please see the Description of Culture and Climate for more detail on these values. Since opening our doors as a charter school in 2001, LEARN has grown from one school serving 110 students to a thriving Network of eight charter schools serving nearly 3,600 students in the Chicagoland area, including the city of North Chicago. The LEARN Charter School Network is an Illinois 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, governed by a nonprofit board of directors. LEARN s twelve board members provide fiduciary oversight, governance and approve all major strategic decisions. In addition, they include a mix of long-time members and newer members with complementary skills, experiences, and community connections. Together with the LEARN board, our lean Network office, led by highly-qualified, experienced staff in areas including academics, student supports and operations, provides leadership and support to each campus to ensure the high quality of all LEARN schools. With guidance from the nationally recognized Charter School Growth Fund and under leadership from our board of directors and President and CEO, Greg White, LEARN is poised for additional growth in order to extend our impact to more students and communities. We propose to open LEARN Charter School - Chicago Heights Campus in September 2015 in Chicago Heights School District 170, with 200 students in grades K-3 and to add one grade level per year until we reach full enrollment of 600 in We believe that our combination of a rigorous curriculum, quality and data-driven instruction, high teacher expectations, and focus on the whole child will propel the children we serve on to success in high school, college and future careers, providing lasting benefit to our students and their families, the district and the broader Chicago Heights community. 2. Local Needs Assessment In the spring of 2014, LEARN partnered with the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) to conduct a needs assessment of communities in the Chicagoland area, in order to identify communities with a need for and an interest in a LEARN Charter School. This assessment analyzed communities based on academic achievement and school district size in addition to qualitative input from local stakeholders and residents, including local pastors, retired educators, elected officials and area business leaders. 7

8 LEARN subsequently reached out to and met with Superintendent Amadio, along with other District 170 officials, and conducted additional outreach to Chicago Heights residents and local organizations, including both meetings and canvassing, to further assess the level of interest in a Chicago Heights campus of LEARN Charter School. Based on this analysis, LEARN identified Chicago Heights as a community for further exploration. LEARN subsequently reached out to and met with Superintendent Amadio, along with other District 170 officials, and conducted additional outreach to Chicago Heights residents in order to further assess the level of interest in a Chicago Heights campus of LEARN Charter School. We have met with the following organizations and individuals in order to gain an understanding of the community, its needs and priorities from their perspective. Those listed below have not endorsed LEARN, but have shared their knowledge and insight about the Chicago Heights community. We believe that it is essential to be in continuous dialogue with community residents and organizations in order to understand the unique assets and needs of that community and hope to form lasting relationships with these and other local organizations. We greatly appreciate the strong support we have received thus far from Pastor Lawrence Blackful and Bethel Community Church, members of the Chicago Heights Area Ministerial Council. Alderman Perez Aunt Martha s Bethel Community Church Chicago Heights Area Ministerial Council Chicago Heights Public Schools - District 170 Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce Chief of Staff for Mayor Gonzales - Lisa Aprati City Clerk Lori Wilcox St. Agnes South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association State Representative Jones Our analysis and outreach in Chicago Heights have yielded the following findings: 3. Local Education Assets Chicago Heights public schools have much to celebrate, including a new STEM Magnet Academy in August 2013, several well-regarded elementary schools and the creation of an innovative Pre-K program and curriculum, developed with funding from Griffin family and in partnership with professors from University of Chicago and Harvard The STEM Magnet Academy, which currently shares space with Washington-McKinley, provides studentcentered learning experiences and a rigorous, technologically-infused curriculum which incorporates real-world problems and projects. The school also has a partnership with Project Lead the Way which offers coding and technology courses. STEM is selective-enrollment, requiring a GPA of 3.25 in core classes, an interview, and a writing sample. STEM draws students at the middle school level from across District 170. Outside of the public school district, there are a number of private schools, including parochial 8

9 schools at the elementary level and Marian Catholic High School. Chicago Heights is also near several institutions of higher education, including the South Suburban College and Prairie State College, which offer both traditional and nontraditional programs. Chicago Heights students and their families also benefit from a strong network of social service providers, both in the city of Chicago Heights and throughout the south suburbs. In our conversations with stakeholders, many named Aunt Martha s, the Jones Center and other organizations that provide services to support Chicago Heights residents. 4. Student Achievement The following charts include student achievement data from the 2013 ISAT for District 170 elementary and middle schools and LEARN Charter School Network, as well as the Illinois state average for ISAT achievement in each student subgroup shown. All data was drawn from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) report cards. 2 We begin with composite data for all students in reading and math, respectively, followed by results for subgroups, including Hispanic students, black students, students with limited English proficiency, and students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs). The charts also show how District 170 schools are performing in relation to each other, to the state and district averages for all students, to the state and district averages for each subgroup, and to the LEARN Network, highlighted in green. Subgroups are ordered by their relative size in District 170, from largest to smallest. Figure 1 2 We include only 2013 data here because, at the time of writing, 2014 ISAT data was not available for all schools. 9

10 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4 10

11 Figure 5 Figure 6 Figure 7 11

12 Figure 8 Figure 9 Figure 10 12

13 As Figures 1-10 show, in 2013, a number of Chicago Heights elementary schools outperformed state averages for some specific subgroups. Of note, almost all schools exceeded state averages in math and reading for students with limited English proficiency. In math, most schools also met or exceeded state averages for Hispanic students. In addition, three schools exceeded state averages for black students in reading (Lincoln, Grant, and Greenbriar) and two schools exceeded state averages for black students in math (Washington-McKinley and Kennedy). At the same time, the data highlight student achievement challenges. The majority of Chicago Heights elementary schools performed below the state average for black students in both reading and math. Most schools also performed below the state average in math for Hispanic students and students with Limited English Proficiency. Many schools are also trailing the overall state average in math or reading by more than 20 percentage points. In addition, the performance of students with IEPs in Chicago Heights falls below state averages for that subgroup in both reading and math at all but one school. At the high school level, District 170 feeds into Bloom Township High School District 206. District 206 shows some upwards trends but also a need for improvement. In 2013, 24% of students in the district met or exceeded standards on the Prairie State Achievement Test (PSAE) composite and the four year graduation rate was 65%. In 2014, performance improved with 26% of students meeting or exceeding on the PSAE, while the 4-year graduation rate rose to 68%. However, in 2014, only 13% of students met the "college-ready" benchmark of 21 on the ACT, according to the Illinois Report Card. While a number of district elementary schools are performing relatively well in some subjects or for some subgroups, the data above suggest that there is a need for improvement at the elementary and middle school levels in the district. Furthermore, the outcomes at the high school level suggest that while some high school students from Chicago Heights and surrounding communities are succeeding and graduating from District 206 well-prepared for college, the majority of students are not. 5. Local Education Challenges and Needs In addition to concerns about student performance at some district schools, parents and community members highlighted the following challenges and needs with respect to education in Chicago Heights: A lower student-to-teacher ratio and more individualized instruction for students A need to provide excellent programming and instruction for students transferring during the school year (student mobility) A lack of skilled workers to fill positions in STEM fields, such as mid-level manufacturing jobs which require computer technology skills and experience As a result of our outreach to measure interest in LEARN, we have received 1,020 petition signatures in support of opening a LEARN charter school in Chicago Heights. 6. The Benefit of a LEARN Charter School District 170 is already providing families with options, such as the STEM magnet school. In addition, when filtering for all students in Chicago Heights SD 170, Lincoln Elementary School and Greenbriar Elementary School are both yielding strong academic results in reading and math respectively. We 13

14 believe that a LEARN charter school in Chicago Heights would provide another vital option for Chicago Heights families and would strengthen the district as a whole. A LEARN charter school would help the district to improve student achievement in all student subgroups in grades K-8 and increase the number of students who are prepared for rigorous college preparatory coursework at the high school level. In addition to educating students within our walls, we hope to partner with district schools on mutual sharing of best practices and professional development opportunities. LEARN has a 13-year track record of raising the achievement of traditionally underserved low-income and minority students. Our network overall enrolls 3,600 students. Of these students, 89% are lowincome, 89% are African American and 9% are Hispanic. In addition, we serve 154 English Learners throughout our Network. We do not believe that students racial, ethnic or economic background should predict their academic achievement, and our academic results bear out this belief. As shown in Figures 1-9 above, LEARN s low-income, African American and Hispanic students are significantly outperforming the state average of their peers in each of these subgroups. In our experience across eight schools, we have found that new students enter our network with a wide range of abilities, academic strengths, and challenges. In existing LEARN schools, the percentage of our student population with special education needs is 12.5%. We are especially proud of our success in growing students achievement over time. As demonstrated in the following chart, of LEARN students enrolled in our Chicago campuses for one year, only 39% met or exceeded standards on the 2013 ISAT. However, among students who attended LEARN for 5 or more years, 66% met or exceeded standards. LEARN Chicago Campuses ISAT Results by Years at LEARN Similarly, at LEARN North Chicago which opened in Fall 2012, students enrolled at the school for two 14

15 consecutive years scored significantly higher than those students new to the school during the school year. Our 2014 ISAT results for the school show that this was true in each grade level tested and in both reading and math, as shown below. LEARN North Chicago ISAT Growth of Returning Students 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 67% 57% 58% 61% 48% 48% % Meet and Exceed 95% 90% 76% 59% 63% 48% Reading Math Science Composite w/o Science 68% 63% 53% Composite w/ Science All Students 2014 Returning Students LEARN North Chicago ISAT Achievement of Returning 3 rd Graders 100% 80% 60% 40% % Meet and Exceed 56% 56% 56% 43% 43% 43% 20% 0% Reading Math Composite All 3rd Graders (N=40) Returning 3rd Graders Only (N=27) 15

16 LEARN North Chicago ISAT Growth of Returning 7 th Graders 68% 66% 64% 62% 60% 58% 56% 54% % Meet and Exceed 67% 66% 63% 64% 61% 59% Reading Math Composite th Graders (N=51) Returning 7th Graders Only (N=45) LEARN North Chicago ISAT Growth of Returning 8 th Graders % Meet and Exceed 100% 50% 52% 54% 76% 63% 58% 65% 0% Reading Math Composite th Graders (N=55) 2014 Returning 8th Graders Only (N=41) 16

17 The results from the Northwestern Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment provide another example of LEARN students academic growth. On average, new students entering LEARN have ranked in the 37th percentile according to NWEA Measures of Academic Progress assessment. Over time, we have succeeded in substantially increasing their performance. Below, we provide a snapshot of growth during one school year: From Fall 2013 to Spring 2014, LEARN students performance across all of our campuses increased from the 46th percentile of national attainment to the 53rd exceeding the national average for all students. In addition, in each of the last two years, over 70% of LEARN North Chicago s students have grown a year or more, placing LEARN North Chicago among the top 10% for growth of schools using this assessment nationwide. Our most important outcomes, however, are those that are directly aligned to our mission as a college preparatory elementary school: graduation from a college preparatory high school and college success. To ensure that we are achieving these outcomes, we track LEARN alumni throughout high school and college. Our results to date are strong: 95% of LEARN alumni graduate from high school, and 95% of LEARN alumni attend college, with 71% enrolling in 4-year colleges or universities and 24% enrolling first in 2- year colleges. In Chicago Heights, we anticipate that our student population will roughly mirror that of the district. According to the Illinois Report Card, 95% of District 170 students were low-income, 59% were Hispanic, 35% were Black, 4% were White and 22% were English Learners. One percent of students were classified as homeless and 14% were students with disabilities. Our program will be designed to meet the needs of all students so that all LEARN scholars can achieve at high levels. We fully anticipate that LEARN will succeed in dramatically accelerating achievement for Chicago Heights students as we have done at our existing campuses. 17

18 7. Drivers of Success Throughout this proposal, we will describe the many components of our approach that help us to achieve our mission as a college preparatory elementary school. Here, we wish to highlight the following key drivers that have contributed to our success to date and that we believe will lay the groundwork for success with Chicago Heights students, as well: Student Support Services. LEARN serves a significant population of low-income (89%) and minority students from some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the area. As a result, our students come to us with a range of challenges and traumas, and we believe children cannot learn unless their social and emotional needs are addressed. We ensure all LEARN schools have a social-worker or counselor on site and employ additional psychologists and support staff at the network level to support our campuses. Each of our schools also follows a social and emotional learning curriculum that explicitly teaches students skills such as managing conflicts and emotions, working as a team, building respectful relationships and making responsible decisions. In addition to providing immediate benefits to our students and broader school community, these practices are important because character development and social and emotional strength will play a vital role in students high school, college and workplace success. Talent. LEARN receives approximately 3,000 applications and interviews over 1,000 candidates each year to select the best instructors and leaders for the schools within the Network. Our Network recruits top talent from local, regional, and national education partners and universities. We seek out and hire exceptional teachers because we know that teachers have a greater impact on student success than any other factor in a school. Low Student-to-Teacher Ratio. We intentionally keep classes small (typically ranging from 20 to 25) in order to provide individualized and differentiated instruction to our students. Longer and More School Days. We provide an extended school day (8:30 am to 4:00 pm) and year, with only a six week summer break, to ensure that our students have sufficient time for instruction in core subjects, as well as enrichment classes. Rigorous Academic Program. In order to prepare students for college preparatory high schools, we provide a rigorous academic program, differentiated to serve the needs of all children, including those significantly below grade level and advanced scholars who need additional challenges or acceleration. Within our academic program, LEARN places a special emphasis on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills so in demand in today's economy. LEARN focuses on providing students with a strong foundation in STEM subjects and creates opportunities for projectbased learning that inspire students and instill them with a sense of the possibilities for creativity and teamwork involved in STEM careers. Strong Management Support. As an established network, we are able to provide each new campus with solid and extensive support for all aspects of the school s academic, social-emotional and operational needs. An analysis released by the Civic Federation in October 2014 uses 13 indicators of financial condition to provide a snapshot of the fiscal health of four Chicago charter schools or networks between fiscal years 2007 and The analysis indicated strong fiscal health for the 18

19 LEARN Charter School Network during the five-year period, with 12 positive indicators, 1 adequate indicator, and 0 negative indicators. 3 3 The Civic Federation, "The Financial Viability of Chicago Charter Schools: Financial Analysis of Selected Chicago Charter Schools," October 2014, (accessed November 12, 2014). 19

20 EDUCATION PLAN At LEARN, we believe that all of our scholars can excel when provided with high quality instruction directed by skilled and caring teachers. Beginning with clear learning outcomes, teachers provide explicit modeling and guided instruction, with ample independent practice to move students to mastery. We aim to produce life-long learners with the confidence and skills to pursue meaningful careers and make substantial contributions to their communities. 1. Curriculum and Instruction LEARN students engage in four core subjects English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies as well as in enrichment courses in technology, visual and performing arts, Spanish, and physical education. Our instructional approach is based on the understanding that all students are individuals who come to us at different academic levels and with a variety of skills, talents and needs. We differentiate instruction and do whatever it takes to support student learning, for students across the educational spectrum, from those who are struggling to accelerated learners who are ready to go farther and dig deeper into subject matter and skill development. Using the workshop model in English language arts and math, teachers employ a structure that allows for small, flexible grouping, and the targeting of instruction on the specific skills and concepts that need to be reinforced. Small groups may include students focusing on mastering a portion of the lesson, providing time for more intensive teaching. Groups may also contain students with a variety of skill levels but a similar interest in a particular book or project, allowing the stronger learners to model good learning behaviors for those who are struggling. We train and expect our staff to be able to compose their groups thoughtfully and tactically to maximize instructional time. English Language Arts Following the Common Core State Standards, we provide a balanced literacy program with high quality literature and informational text to instill a love of reading along with instruction in phonics, grammar, and effective writing. Using Lucy Calkins Units of Study developed at Columbia University, teachers are able to challenge and support students at every instructional level using a variety of evidence-based instructional strategies. Reading Workshop. For reading workshop, teachers use assessment data to determine each student s instructional level. Teachers then develop guided reading groups to teach students at their own level. Since those at the same reading level may still vary in their mastery of specific reading skills such as understanding embedded phrases or complex letter-sound relationships teachers also organize "strategy groups" to target students needing extra instruction and practice with specific skills. In shared reading, teachers read a book aloud to model expression and comprehension strategies and to build children's vocabulary. Students then reread these books during independent practice to build fluency. In independent reading, children read a book at their own level and respond to the text in writing tasks. Teachers are able to carefully monitor the progress of every student and target identified individual students or groups for extra support. Drawing from a database of K-8 fiction and nonfiction, we provide reading material at the 26 reading levels (A-Z) identified by the Fountas and Pinnell Text Level Gradient. This structure ensures that students are able to develop and use decoding and comprehension strategies that allow them to read 20

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