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Partnering for better reading results
By Katie Murray / April 25, 2018 /   Loading Disqus...

In 2012, Leo A. Savoie Elementary School was one of four elementary schools in Woonsocket to partner with the Learning Community Charter School (LCCS) and its professional development arm, The Teaching Studio, in a five-year plan for targeted professional development in reading instruction. Leo Savoie enrolls nearly 400 children in grades K-5 and all classroom teachers participated for the full five years. Reading specialists and school leaders also participated in the professional development activities which were led by LCCS classroom teachers and reading specialists who are also members of The Teaching Studio.


The other participating elementary schools in Woonsocket were Harris, Globe Park and Governor Pothier. A fifth school in the partnership was Old County Road School in Smithfield. Nearly 1,600 students and 80 teachers and other school educators benefited from the initiative.

"Teachers are the key driver to school success –  our work is led by teachers, for teachers and is informed by real classroom practice."

                                    — The Teaching Studio at the Learning Community

Across four years, LCCS and Leo Savoie rolled out a new assessment system for benchmarking progress in reading. The assessment tool was implemented three times each year as a way of regularly tracking progress.  Improvements in reading were substantial year-to-year and across all four years, with a 20-percentage point increase in students who were reading at or above grade level, from 45% in fall 2013 to 65% in spring 2017.

The partnership was multi-faceted and included monthly professional development sessions with teachers from across the city. Topics included reading instruction, administering assessments, and hands-on review and application of data. LCCS teachers visited Leo Savoie classrooms to observe teachers during reading instruction and guide them in new methods. The partnership also included cash awards (grants) to the school to create libraries in each classroom and to ensure teacher participation by providing substitute coverage during the professional development. Teachers from Savoie had the opportunity to see the best practices in use by visiting the Learning Community.  They all had personal coaches they could call to get feedback and direction.

Leaders at Leo Savoie credit the support provided by LCCS in effectively using data binders and tracking data to help focus on the specific reading needs of students. In addition, the implementation of a consistent reading program, along with the structures of a 90-minute reading block and common planning time, provided the essential supports needed to continue the literacy focus without additional professional development from LCCS. 

The LCCS’s Teaching Studio continues to provide professional development to schools and has recently been approved by the Rhode Island Department of Education to offer an Elementary ESL Certification. 

Leo Savoie Principal Donna Coderre and Reading Specialist Lisa Lanoue described their partnership with LCCS as “amazing” for the solutions and long-term support to help teachers improve their practice. Through high quality professional development informed by school and student needs, this unique partnership influenced changes in every classroom that helped to improve student reading abilities. It is a strong example of the Foundation’s focus on improving coordination within and across the education sector.


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