Missouri Reading Initiative Connection: 3-5
The Missouri Reading Initiative is a comprehensive approach to professional development in all aspects of literacy. It was first organized in 1998 under the auspices of the Missouri Learning First Alliance, consisting of fifteen major educational organizations. The initial mission of the Missouri Reading Initiative was dedicated to working with Missouri public schools' teachers and administrators to ensure every child would be able to read proficiently by the end of third grade. However, because of the successful results of the program it has been expanded to include literacy assistance at all grade levels.
The Missouri Reading Initiative works with Missouri public schools to achieve the following goals:
- Provide ongoing, systemic professional development to enhance the quality of literacy instruction leading to improved student achievement throughout all grade levels.
- Examine and disseminate research in reading and writing to educators throughout the state, assisting schools with the implementation of instructional best practices in literacy through modeling lessons, coaching, and collaboration.
- Assist schools with assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of school improvement efforts in literacy toward a comprehensive model.
Process of Participation
- Individual elementary schools must apply to be considered for a Missouri Reading Initiative site. Extensive discussion among the school's administrators and staff should take place to evaluate the school's readiness and commitment to improved literacy achievement. The application is available on the website, or one may be requested from the state office.
- A trainer will be assigned to the school for the coming year. Before the school year begins, a trainer will conduct initial training for the administrator and teachers. The length of this initial training can be tailored to fit the individual school situation, but we suggest one to two days. The purpose of the initial training will be to give teachers some research-based best practices with which to start the school year. Administrator involvement is necessary for systemic change to happen; therefore, it is an MRI expectation that the principal actively participates in all training sessions with the trainer and teachers. Likewise, all teachers that have connection to literacy instruction (including Title I teachers, special education teachers, reading specialists, librarians, etc.) must be involved in the training.
- Once the school year starts, a trainer will return periodically to work with teachers and administrators. During these visits, the trainer will cover new content with a grade level or several grade levels of teachers. The trainer will model various components of literacy as they work with students in classrooms. Eventually, trainers will observe teachers as they implement the practice. Common grade level collaborative time will provide opportunities for teachers to reflect on their own practice, ask questions of the MRI trainer, and plan for further visits.
- In addition to the professional development delivered by the Missouri Reading Initiative trainers, teachers will be expected to participate in study groups when the trainer is not there. Schools that pursue school improvement in a collaborative manner are more positive to the change process, leading to improved instructional practices among staff.
- In total, the 3-5 training of Missouri Reading Initiative schools will follow the approximate format:
Year 1: (15 days)
Year 2: (15 days)
Year 3: (15 days)
If, at the end of the third year, school personnel feels that further training and continued support are needed from the Missouri Reading Initiative, a plan may be developed cooperatively involving the MRI Director, school personnel, and the MRI trainer.