Kristin Algier and Sarah Chambers: Uplift Heights Literacy Luncheons boost reading gains; build parent partnerships

At the beginning of the school year, Uplift Heights Primary Director Kristin Algier heard parents loud and clear.  They wanted more opportunities to be a partner in their children’s education and participate in more culture-building events.  Meanwhile early scores of the Measure of Academic Performance (MAP) assessment were showing the need for scholars to make gains in reading.  Many first year scholars at Uplift Heights were starting the year well below national and Uplift averages in reading, so helping scholars make gains was the highest priority for the staff.  Ms. Algier and Primary Dean Sarah Chambers decided to marry the need for reading gains with the need to build culture by starting Literacy Luncheons.

“It’s a great opportunity for our community partners to experience the school setting and for our parents to get more information on how to build a literate home and a college mentality through reading,” Ms. Algier said.

At different times throughout the year, parents are invited to lunch with their scholars and spend the lunch period reading to their children.  When parents are unable to attend a Literacy Luncheon, community leaders step in to ensure all scholars are able to get reading time.  Volunteer readers from Voice of Hope, Girls Inc. and Readers to Leaders also donate their time to help scholars make reading gains while enjoying lunch.

An unintended result of the literacy luncheon is each teacher’s ability to see scholars interact with his or her parents.  Ms. Chambers said teacher’s gain valuable insight into the background of a scholar and they are able to see how parents obtain buy-in from their child.

“It’s fantastic for our teachers to see parents working with the scholars and to recognize our scholars as a part of a family unit.  It gives our teachers a better idea of where our scholars come from,” Ms. Chambers said.

The most recent MAP data suggests that this event and other efforts taken on by the faculty at Uplift Heights Primary are paying off.  Reading scores in kindergarten increased from five points below the national average at the beginning of the school year, to 25 points above the national average in January.

“The event is something that absolutely defines Uplift Heights, which is being both focused on literacy while bringing in our families to create a true partnership,” Ms. Algier said.

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