The Topeka, KS, Grade-Level Reading Campaign is recognized as a 2014 Pacesetter for making measureable progress on student readiness outcomes. Prior to a partnership with the public housing authority, at-risk students in the neighborhood scored as low as the 20th percentile on a pre-kindergarten literacy assessment. After a single academic year, their scores ranged from 84-100% in five of eight critical success areas for kindergarten readiness.
One of the efforts supported by the local GLR Campaign is the Pine Ridge Partnership that has established a free public school program, located in a public housing complex. The Partnership includes Topeka Public Schools, residents, businesses and many volunteers. Preschool parents volunteer two hours monthly and attend activities, ranging from a weekly “conscious discipline” class to a monthly literacy event. The preschool’s teachers, teaching assistants, special education support staff, literacy coach, social worker and curriculum come from the school district. Teachers visit students’ homes twice a year. A full-time licensed clinical social worker also provides family and individual therapy.
The Topeka GLR Campaign reaches approximately 9,700 low-income children in a school district of roughly 14,000 students through a variety of programs and by providing access to books. In partnership with Topeka Public Schools, the Campaign regularly tracks the following as key measures of its overall impact on student readiness outcomes: percent of children from low-income families in accredited child-care settings, including publicly-funded programs, Head Start and home-based providers; percent of children from low-income families ages 1-5 who receive a developmental screening; and percent of low-income parents participating in home visiting programs. Reflecting on the community’s progress since it joined the Campaign in 2012, local GLR Lead, Kim Ribelin, commented, “We are excited and honored to receive this recognition. We have made great strides through collaborative efforts to impact the school readiness of the children in our community as well as working with elementary age students to progress on grade level. By working to collectively impact these children and families we are changing the odds for so many.”
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading proudly recognizes the shared ownership for the progress in Topeka among the following members of the local sponsoring coalition:
- United Way of Greater Topeka
- Topeka Public Schools
- Topeka Housing Authority
- Parents as Teachers
- Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
- Topeka Community Foundation