Literacy is First at the Four Winds Community School
Research supports the fact that the elementary years are instrumental to determining a child's success in future educational endeavors and to decreasing the drop out rate. Four Winds Community School is dedicated to becoming a school that is a true learning community. The school's focus is on improving student reading skills and academic achievement by providing students opportunities to enhance their literacy skills. Building students' literacy skills is necessary to enhance their educational success in the future.
To combat low literacy levels throughout the Spirit Lake Reservation and community, the Four Winds Community School has implemented a new initiative called Literacy First. Literacy First is not a program, it is a research-based process that calls for teachers to thoroughly assess each student and utilize that assessment to drive instruction. The goal of both Literacy First and the Four Winds Community School is to accelerate reading achievement so at least 85% of all students, grades pre K - 12, are performing on or above grade level.
The Literacy First process is building instructional leaders throughout the school system on every level. Principals, teachers, special education staff, and para-professionals on each level are being trained throughout the year on strategies that will assist students in reading more fluently.
The students undergo a multitude of assessments allowing teachers the opportunity to see what each student's needs are in order to become more fluent readers and provide activities to build up those skills. Each assessment provides us with the information needed to begin filling in the "gaps" for continued student success. These skills are necessary in providing the foundation upon which all reading and writing is built.
Students have been steadily making increases throughout the year. In January, the students underwent the second round of fluency assessments which showed about a 4-5% increase in students' fluency levels throughout the school community. We are hopeful that the increase will be even greater by the end of the school year and will continue for years to come.
Although the Literacy First process is backed up by years of research and stories of success, it is the stories of our students' success that we are beginning to write that make the often time and labor intensive Literacy First process worth incorporating.