May 13, 2014

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Jessica Acebo of TLI, left, and Marissa Campbell and Michelle De Leon of AISD at a coaches meeting.

In a recent survey, Austin Independent School District teachers, reading coaches, and administrators reported that the Texas Literacy Initiative has significantly improved student literacy.

  The Texas Literacy Initiative (TLI) is a professional development and technical assistance project that works to improve school readiness and ensure that all students are prepared to meet the literacy demands of college. For the past 2 years, Austin Independent School District (AISD) has participated in TLI for prekindergarten through grade 12, benefiting more than 20,000 students.

  In November 2013, AISD’s Department of Research and Evaluation conducted a survey of 297 teachers, 51 literacy coaches and reading specialists, and 48 administrators.

  Across the board, AISD educators reported being well supported in their efforts to improve students’ reading outcomes. In the survey, 93% of teachers and 94% of reading coaches said that their campus administrators supported their TLI work, and 83% of administrators reported that they received “the support I need” from district-level TLI staff.

  An impressive 98% of administrators reported that TLI improves student literacy at their school. A substantial majority (81%) of teachers noted that TLI reading coaches are important to the academic success of their students.

  TLI’s emphasis on data-informed decision-making is one of the factors driving improvement in student achievement. Data meetings helped 87% of teachers “drive my instruction to support the needs of my students.” One surveyed teacher explained that a benefit of meeting with reading coaches is “…being able to sit down and review the data showing student progress and being able to work together to collaborate on different activities that will help support our students’ learning.”

  Teamwork and collaboration play key roles in TLI’s success. With a high number of AISD schools and educators involved, the implementation plan depends on consistent communication across the school sites and strong professional learning communities.

  The Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts at The University of Texas at Austin works closely with the leadership at AISD to develop effective grant implementation teams and prepare literacy coaches to support teachers in meeting their instructional goals. As Marissa Campbell, the reading coach at Guerrero Thompson Elementary School, said, “Often, I feel my job enters uncharted territory—yet the [TLI] training and support help me find my path.”

  To ensure that best practices for instruction, professional development, and community involvement are consistently employed, similar surveys and student data reporting will continue to track TLI’s progress in the district.