Read Fort Worth unveils strategies for Covid-19 educational recovery

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price joined Fort Worth ISD (FWISD) Superintendent Dr. Kent P. Scribner and Read Fort Worth’s Executive Director Elizabeth Brands for what was her last Read Fort Worth stakeholder meeting as Mayor. Last November, the three organizations formalized The Literacy Accord to build consensus and unity among the literacy partners focused on achieving significant outcomes for FWISD students. 

“The hardships of the last year have created an urgency for educational solutions. The time is now to make bold decisions and ensure our students are on the right track. My time as mayor has been marked by a steadfast commitment helping our young learners meet their reading potential,” said Mayor Price. “Read Fort Worth, Fort Worth ISD and our many partners and stakeholders are continuing to build on the work we have already accomplished; these efforts will impact our community for generations to come.”

In a socially distanced setting from FWISD’s Christene C. Moss Elementary School Library via Zoom to key stakeholders, the leaders discussed recent progress and the Covid-19 educational recovery. The overarching theme of the conversation was loud and clear: get kids back to school and back in class, with a specific plan, including:

  1. Additional instructional time
  2. Investing in our teachers
  3. Doubling down on equal parts math and equal parts literacy
  4. Building strong and resilient families

Tarrant County Superintendents Unite

As Tarrant County represents 10 percent of all school-age children in Texas, Mayor Price assembled 16 Tarrant County Superintendents in April. The first-ever meeting of the area’s educational leaders concluded with the majority of County Superintendents supporting in-person learning as the most academically and developmentally appropriate learning environment for our youngest students. The group will continue meeting on a regular basis to share knowledge and successful student strategies.

“This will be a critical year of recovery for all school districts,” said Superintendent Scribner. “The pandemic has disproportionately affected our youngest learners, especially those from the most economically challenged zip codes.  But we are doubling down on the instruction of literacy, beginning with a first-of-its-kind opportunity for students this summer.  Called Summer Launch, the program will allow Fort Worth ISD students to catch up or accelerate their learning and recover credits lost due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. It will include both academic and enrichment activities (STEM, arts, and more), and all courses will have a math or literary focus.”

Read Fort Worth’s Summer Scholars Collaborative

Currently, FWISD enrollment is down 7 percent, compared to 4 percent average for Tarrant County. Over the summer, Read Fort Worth will continue its porch visits to enroll and connect with families and overcome any barriers to learning.  Further, Read Fort Worth’s Summer Scholars Collaborative will serve more than 80 locations across Fort Worth by providing students with daily literacy instruction via an evidence-based curriculum taught by trained literacy instructors. Research shows that students who received summer literacy tutoring significantly outperformed students who did not on literacy assessments. Program results support this national research – 100 percent of students in Read Fort Worth’s Summer Scholars Collaborative maintained or gained literacy performance during the summer.

“Education recovery requires bold action. The first and most significant step toward recovery is prioritizing all students returning to in-person learning. The data supports that in-person instruction is especially important for our youngest learners and Covid-19 is not being spread in schools,” said Read Fort Worth Executive Director Elizabeth Brands. “It’s time to move from having conversations around ideas and start implementing the big and bold ideas we’ve shared today. Fort Worth ISD is a critical partner in this work, and it is all of our responsibility.”

The Don Babers Reading Program

Also announced was the first elementary school winner of the Don C. Babers Reading Program, Christene C. Moss Elementary. In an attendance competition, Christene C. Moss students had the highest rate of improved attendance of the 26 elementary schools that competed. Local business Solomon Bruce Consulting, LLC, donated the resources to provide one book to every child in each of the top-four elementary school campuses who saw improvement in their students’ attendance.  The Don Baber’s Reading Rewards Program will continue quarterly.

According to Fall 2021 literacy data, students with higher attendance rates outperformed their peers with lower attendance rates on all literacy assessments. Named in honor of the late Read Fort Worth Board Member, Mr. C. Don Babers, the Don C. Babers Reading Rewards Program monitors, encourages, and rewards improved attendance in 26 participating Fort Worth ISD elementary schools in the Dunbar, Eastern Hills, O.D. Wyatt, and Poly pyramids. Attendance is monitored for each six-week period, and students in schools with top in-person and virtual attendance are rewarded with academically and developmentally appropriate fiction and non-fiction books. publishes every week.
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Barbara Clark Galupi