Read to Succeed getting results, wants to expand

August 21, 2013 Updated Aug 21, 2013 at 11:40 AM EDT

By Dan Miner, Reporter- Business First

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Read to Succeed getting results, wants to expand

August 21, 2013 Updated Aug 21, 2013 at 11:40 AM EDT

Read to Succeed Buffalo's first four-year literacy program showed marked improvement in the test scores of randomly selected Buffalo public school children in pre-Kindergarten.

But when students graduated from the program and away from the Read to Succeed supports, their achievement lagged.

The conclusion: the program needs to be more expansive to achieve lasting results, said Anne Ryan, the agency's executive director.

That's what is currently happening, as Read to Succeed Buffalo rolls out a new strategic plan that will begin in three sites, including Buffalo Promise Neighborhood Children's Academy, Highgate Heights Elementary School and Westminster Community Charter School, working with children from pre-K to second grade.

"We target every child, even the high performers, using nationally normed tools," Ryan said. "The mission is to build a sustainability within classrooms and with all the teachers we work with.

Essentially, the program brings highly trained personnel into classrooms to focus specifically on individuals - a level of attention that isn't always possible without extra help.

Ryan said the program isn't a reflection on teacher aptitude or work ethic, but a signifier of the need for more classroom support in today's world of standardized tests and rigid achievement measures.

Read to Succeed is also awaiting word on its application for a $12 million federal grant over five years which would allow it drastically expand its program in the Buffalo school district.

Frank said beneath the turmoil in the Buffalo public schools, a lot of positive and forward-thinking programs are being implemented right now. She mentioned Say Yes to Education Buffalo, which will begin rolling out an extra person in each district school this year to track student achievement, along with the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood initiative.

"It's not unique to Buffalo," she said of the need for increased focus on student achievement. "It's urban districts across the country. Children in poverty need more intentionality, more support. Their teachers need more support."

Frank plans to address the Buffalo school board about Read to Succeed's strategy at Wednesday evening's regular board meeting, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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