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Teaching All—Reaching All: Achieving Mastery “Reading To Learn” & Celebrating Exceptional Results

As Urbandale High School students and staff prepare to welcome alumni and community supporters during a week-long celebration for Homecoming 2017, we have yet another reason to celebrate—exceptional results from the state of Iowa early literacy assessments in support of Iowa’s Early Literacy Law aimed at ensuring all students are proficient readers by the time they leave third grade. Urbandale CSD ranks in the top 7% of all 334 school districts in the state of Iowa for kindergarten through Students Readingthird-grade students meeting or exceeding proficiency benchmarks this past spring. Of all school districts in the state, Urbandale is one of only four, 4A school districts to crack the top 10%. In addition, of the 1,131 students tested in the spring of 2017, 82.7% of Urbandale students met the proficiency benchmarks; this amounts to a 5% growth in the percent of students proficient from fall to spring.

In 2014, a law went into effect in Iowa to focus efforts on helping students become proficient readers by the end of third grade. Iowa Administrative Code 281.62, often referred to as the Early Literacy Law, spelled out actions all school districts must take to collect and act on important data regarding students’ abilities to read. Reading fluently and accurately is a critical life skill. Fluency, the ability to read text quickly and with expression, and accuracy, the ability to decode words correctly, are critical elements of being able to make meaning of what is read. Students first learn to read, then read to learn. If students do not learn to read fluently and accurately, then understanding what they are reading becomes a lifelong struggle.

Student ReadingWith the adoption of the Early Literacy Law, we began administering the FAST (Formative Assessment System for Teachers) assessments in fluency, accuracy and early literacy composite skills. Teachers and leaders have worked diligently to dig deeper into what the results of FAST assessments mean for their instruction. In collaborative teams, teachers have analyzed results and identified ways to make instruction targeted specifically to the literacy skills students need to master. In addition, teachers at each school have put in place processes to monitor the progress of struggling students weekly in order to determine the effectiveness of instruction. In this way, adjustments to instruction can be made quickly depending on the learning and progress of the student.

As we continue reviewing the data, we know that Urbandale has much to celebrate! These results are the direct result of the hard work and dedication of students, families and educators in all levels of our system. Their collaboration, willingness to continually learn and improve, and meet the needs of every one of our students are why Urbandale continues to be such an outstanding district. Well done!

Crista Carlile
Director of Teaching and Learning
Urbandale CSD