This summer, Transform Consulting Group has had the opportunity to work with Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) in the development of their federal grant applications for the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation Validation (i3) program and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program to improve reading performance of K-3rd grade students at high-need schools.
Learning to read by third grade is a critical benchmark that marks the shift from students learning to read to students reading to learn. Students without a basic level of competency by third grade are more likely to struggle academically and have behavioral and social problems in subsequent grades (Fiester, 2010). Dr. Donald J. Hernandez found that students who were not proficient in reading by third grade were six times more likely to leave school without a diploma than their peers who were proficient in reading.
BGCA has worked in partnership with school districts for several years to help struggling readers develop the confidence and skills needed to read on grade level by third grade. In 2010, one of BGCA’s local affiliates, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, received an i3 Development Grant to implement and rigorously evaluate the SPARK Early Literacy program. Fast forward four years, BGCA is now implementing the SPARK program in 11 states through a combination of public and private funding.
Through an i3 Validation and IAL grant award, BGCA, in partnership with local Boys & Girls Clubs in the Midwest and California, will expand implementation of the research-based Early Literacy Project (ELP) or SPARK program. SPARK is a “wrap-around” program that provides classroom participants literacy programming in every aspect of their lives. The project improves classroom reading achievement through literacy work in three spheres: school, family and community.
The evaluation of the first cohort of students who completed the program in the 2012-2013 school year found that SPARK had a significant impact on reading achievement; SPARK participants out-achieved control students by 0.12 standard deviations (p < .05). These results were recently replicated in the first year (2013-2014) of the second cohort of SPARK participants; SPARK had a statistically significant impact, with participants out-achieving control students by 0.12 standard deviations (p<.01).
Transform Consulting Group applauds BGCA’s leadership in improving the literacy rate of students, especially those at high-need schools and working to bridge the school-community-family spheres!
Need help with completing a federal grant application or expanding a successful program? Contact Transform Consulting Group today to get started!