Anne Levy, literacy coach for the LIFT UP! program, works with pupils at St. Anthony School in Oakland.
COURTESY STEPHAN BABULJAK /
Saint Mary's literacy program
SAINT MARY'S COLLEGE
assists young urban readers
|LIFT UP! schools
St. Anthony St. Jarlath St. Martin de Porres
Our Lady of the Rosary
Learn about it
Saint Mary's College is celebrating the success of the LIFT UP! program. Contact Kathy Perez, director of outreach and professional development at the Kalmanovitz School of Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 925-631-4506 for details.
Four years ago, Sister Barbara Bray, SNJM, and Linda Basman, superintendent and assistant superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Oakland, respectively, came to Saint Mary's College requesting help for elementary students struggling with reading and writing.
A collaborative team at the Kalmanovitz School of Education jumped into action and by fall term a few months later, a literacy coaching program for teachers called LIFT UP! was rolled out in three urban Catholic schools in Oakland. "We are building the skills of teachers so that they feel empowered and can instill that can-do spirit in their students," said Kathy Perez, director of outreach and professional development at the KSOE who inspired the acronym LIFT UP! — Literacy Innovations For Teachers: Urban Partnership.
Through LIFT UP!, highly trained literacy coaches — all affiliated with Saint Mary's as graduates, faculty members or advisers — keep teachers up-to-date on the most current teaching strategies through in-class demonstrations, coaching, observations and professional development. They also assist teachers with ongoing assessments of their students.
Report highlights |
success of LIFT UP!
According to the report "Oakland Urban Schools ITBS Analysis" by Public Profit, an Oakland-based academic evaluation organization:
• The proportion of youth at or above grade level in language rose from 51 percent to 54 percent between fall 2009 and fall 2011. The proportion of students at or above grade level fell in fall 2012 when a new test was instituted. Students demonstrated very strong fall-to-spring growth in language in 2012-13, however, indicating strong progress toward new curricular standards.
• Compared to public schools in the same neighborhoods, students in the East Bay urban schools are more likely to be at or above grade level in language and math.
• Students who were ever taught by a teacher in the LIFT UP! literacy coaching initiative were more likely to be at or near grade level in language in spring 2012 than their peers.
"We are one of very few programs, if not the only one, that provides consistent support for teachers on a weekly and biweekly basis throughout the school year," said Mary Dierking, lead coach and liaison to Catholic schools who has helped train close to 30 teachers since the program's inception.
LIFT UP! is getting a lot of buzz in local education circles after a recent Public Profit study of test scores in East Bay urban schools found that students involved in the LIFT UP! literacy program "were three times more likely to be at or above grade level in language than their peers."
This groundbreaking literacy initiative now serves five urban Catholic schools in grades K-3; schools in Richmond and Union City were added this year. Perez hopes that next year they will be able to extend LIFT UP! to fourth and fifth grades, too.
Community outreach is an important way for Saint Mary's to walk the walk, said Perez. "To thrive and live our Lasallian mission of serving others, we have to go beyond the campus . . . and reach out to those less fortunate than ourselves."
(Reprinted with permission from the annual report of Saint Mary's College of California.)
Anne Levy works with pupils at St. Anthony School in Oakland.
COURTESY STEPHAN BABULJAK/SAINT MARY'S COLLEGE
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