There are many reasons that Brightlane’s programs are successful. Each month we’ll highlight an element of our programming that makes us stand out. This month we’re looking at Literacy and the Science of Reading.

Last school year, 89% of students who engaged with Brightlane Learning for the duration of the school year maintained or improved their language arts skills. This is especially notable because recently released NWEA testing data demonstrates students nationally are stalling or backsliding in academic progress so it’s important that our students are demonstrating maintenance and improvement.

Students impacted by homelessness and housing instability are often a few steps behind in their academic progress and that’s why we strive to always be a few steps ahead. We know that by providing Brightlane students with the right resources, they’ll have even greater success along their paths to brighter futures.

For years we’ve trained our staff in the science of reading so that we can help students learn to read at grade level. In May of this year, bi-partisan legislation passed requiring that all Indiana schools use a research-based curriculum aligned with the science of reading. But what IS the science of reading? The science of reading refers to a body of research that spans many fields, including education and neuroscience.

The five components of the science of reading include:

  • phonics
  • vocabulary
  • fluency
  • comprehension
  • phonemic awareness.

Brightlane Learning Curriculum Specialist, Amy Gardner, led our annual literacy workshop at the Brightlane office on September 29. This interactive session, open to our tutors, partners, and the public, focused on activities, like practicing vowel and consonant sounds, knowledge building and comprehension, vocabulary, and more.

Beyond training and resources for staff and volunteers, we make sure our students are eager to read. Our library contains diverse books that act as windows and mirrors for students of all backgrounds to learn more about the world around them or understand themselves. One of our 2nd grade students at Washington Irving Neighborhood School recently shared that she loves coming to our classroom because of the books in our library.

Last year staff member Stefanie developed a book club for the students she works with at Pike High School. They read, Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds and learned about the process of having a book published when a local author joined them for an afternoon. Long Way Down has helped engage several older students in reading. Recently Natalie, one of our staff members who works with students at Lawrence North, gave a copy of this book to a student who had recently lost her brother. The student’s first response was, “No, I don’t read books,” but when Natalie told her the premise of the book (the main character loses his brother due to violence and is dealing with grief) and showed her the format of the book, which is written like poetry, she became excited and asked if she could have it.

For a deeper understanding of the science of reading and how it could change schools, check out a WFYI interview with Emily Hanford, an award-winning education reporter.