the literacy cooperative
February 2016
Special Edition
In This issue
A Message from Bob Paponetti
Achieving an aspiration is a good feeling. Six years ago when we began looking for a way to bring SPARK to Cuyahoga County, we knew that The Literacy Cooperative could play a key role in establishing and documenting the value of this kindergarten readiness intervention. Our goal was to pilot SPARK in Cuyahoga County and if successful, work to integrate SPARK into the "early childhood system."  We invested our time in identifying funders, working with partner organizations and engaging schools to give SPARK the support it needed to be successful.
We have been so pleased by how the community has embraced SPARK. With the skillful staff of Family Connections, generous funders, and a great collaborative effort with schools and organizations, the program delivered on its promises of supporting parents and assuring kids are better prepared for school.  Read More.
what is spark and how does it work?
leaf home visit
SUPPORTING PARTNERSHIPS TO ASSURE READY KIDS™  (SPARK) is a family-focused school readiness program. SPARK works with families to help get their children ready for kindergarten by building reading, language and social skills, and seeks to create a seamless transition into school for preschool-age children. 
SPARK has helped more than 5,300 Ohio families prepare their preschool-aged children for school.  SPARK parent partners conduct monthly lessons and activities with families of preschool-aged children. The structured lesson plans and activities SPARK offers are aligned with the Ohio Department of Education's Early Learning and Development Standards . Read More.
SPARK CUYahoga-a successful pilot & Beyond
Maple Family Night
The statistics gathered from the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment for Literacy[1] (KRA-L) can tell an important story about a child's opportunity to succeed in school and the differences across Cuyahoga County are striking. 

When a child begins kindergarten without the benefit of preparation in literacy basics such as knowing the letters of the alphabet or recognizing rhyming words, the odds are against their success. The KRA-L, previously given within the first several weeks of school, assessed this early knowledge and identified students who need extra support. 

A 2008 Plain Dealer article by Martha Mueller Neff highlighted the stark contrast of kindergarten readiness between Bay Village and Cleveland children. In the case of Bay Village, based on state assessment data, it was likely that less than 2% of kindergartners would need intensive intervention to be working at grade level. In Cleveland, 45% of the same age students would require intensive support to be working at grade level. The differences could be largely attributed to access to high quality preschool and other early learning opportunities that are tied closely to parent education level and income. Many Cleveland children were starting out behind their peer group and required early supports to change the odds.

The Literacy Cooperative (TLC) board and leadership responded strongly to the contrast of scores between cities. The newly formed organization was clarifying its strategic objectives and it was clear that early childhood literacy would be among them. Robert Paponetti, Executive Director of TLC recalled thinking, "if so many students were not ready to begin school, yet they are in fact starting school well behind grade level expectations, how do students catch up?" The organization began to look for best practices of interventions that would help improve kindergarten readiness and have a strong evaluation component to prove its effectiveness.

[1] The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment for Literacy (KRA-L) was used until 2014. The new Kindergarten Readiness Assessment includes language and literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, social skills, and physical well-being and motor development.  Read More.
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