Fort Worth, Texas – Read Fort Worth, Fort Worth ISD and the City of Fort Worth reaffirmed their commitment to assuring that FWISD pre-kindergarten through third-grade students continue to have access to critical tools to help them read on grade level.
FWISD Superintendent Kent P. Scribner and Read FW’s Executive Director Elizabeth Brands provided a socially distanced update from FWISD’s Van Zandt-Guinn Elementary School Library to key stakeholders and announced the Literacy Accord.
The Literacy Accord is the foundation upon which Read FW partners with FWISD and the city to continue to encourage and build consensus and unity among Literacy Partners with significant and critical outcomes that benefit FWISD students. While the organizations have been working together for the last five years, today marked a formalization of that partnership.
“COVID-19 has created a myriad of challenges for our community, our families and our children,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “Making sure our children continue to garner the education they deserve and are able to read on level is more important than ever. Working hand in hand with Read FW and FWISD is a critical piece of our commitment.”
Read FW’s foundational pillars include increasing school readiness, reducing chronic absence, preventing summer slide, counteracting family stressors and elevating teacher quality. This summer, Read FW prioritized four pyramids and six ZIP codes where the data showed they could make the most significant impact for students and families. Data and feedback continue to show this approach is working.
Before schools went virtual due to COVID-19 in March, average daily attendance at eight FWISD elementary campuses was 96.4%. After students transitioned to remote learning, Read FW partnered with AT&T, Facebook and FWISD to purchase 6,000 hot spots and distribute those to students’ homes after using FWISD-collected data about its families to know which homes were without internet connectivity. Parent surveys and family feedback indicated families also needed IT support, which was also provided.
Time to double down
“There is not a more opportune time to recommit to the partnership with Read Fort Worth and double down on our efforts regarding early literacy,” Scribner said. “The impact of the pandemic has shown us that it is a critical time for our students.”
In the face of a global pandemic and alongside Read FW, teachers visited the homes of 1,000 students delivering more than 5,000 literacy packets and signing up 1,200 families to receive weekly text messages with academically and developmentally appropriate instructional messages. Teachers transformed in-person learning to virtual platforms, a feat never undertaken by the national education system, and then transitioned back to classrooms, tasked with assessing the academic and social-emotional impact of COVID-19 on their students’ young lives.
“We owe so much to our teachers for their devotion to students. We can look to national research, which consistently shows that teachers are the single most important school-related factor to a child’s success, even more so than school facilities or leadership. And we need not look further than our own neighborhoods to see the positive impact of excellent teachers here in Fort Worth,” said Read FW Executive Director and The Morris Foundation Head of Education Giving Elizabeth Brands.
Reading Rewards program
Attendance remains a key strategic priority for Read FW because it is such an important indicator of success. Students who miss just 10% of school (or one day every two weeks) score 60 points lower than regularly attending students on third-grade reading tests. To continue to support school attendance, Read FW, in partnership with FWISD and Solomon Bruce Consulting’s Managing Principal Joe Michels, is creating a new literacy and attendance program for both in-person and virtual students.
The Read FW Don Babers Reading Rewards Program is in memory and honor of Don Babers, who recently died.
“Mr. Babers was a member of our board, a friend and an ardent champion for families. He lived a life of service and deep commitment for the lives of those in his community,” Brands said.
Starting with the next grading period, every pre-kindergarten through third-grader who has perfect attendance, in person or virtually, will receive a book. The program will serve traditional elementary schools in the same pyramids in which Read FW served students and families during the summer.