Collaboration among education professionals, family, and community is essential to improved student literacy achievement.
Recognizing the reality that no one entity can fulfill the needs of every learner, CDE affirms the necessity of collaboration among education professionals, family, and community in literacy development.
Comer (in Hall, 2008, p. 16) states:
No significant learning takes place without a significant relationship”. It is believed that educators work in a realm of learning and therefore are strong learners. While this seems only natural to expect this, that is not always the case. Many times, educators are resistant to change and learning different ways.
The Colorado Department of Education supports school-building and district-level leadership and administration in its development of learning environments conducive to the advancement of students’ reading, writing, and communication skills. These activities may include:
- professional development
- providing information and resources on best practices in leadership and instruction for increased literacy achievement
- collecting data to guide and support decision-making.
Throughout many Colorado school districts, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are part of the collaboration between and among staff members, providing a structure for communication and focus on student data and achievement. A PLC has been defined as, “as a collective of educators who always strive to perform at their ultimate potential, working together to learn, grow, and improve the professional practice of teaching in order to maximize student learning” (Hall, 2008, p. 17).
The advantages of PLCs that provide a format for educator collaboration have been demonstrated in the areas of teacher learning, confidence, and commitment. Ultimately, educators must come to an intimate understanding of the process of change in order for implementation to be successful and for the promises of new practices to be realized.
The CDE also supports parents, caregivers, and family members in valuing, fostering, and developing skills in reading, writing, and communication. These activities may include family literacy nights at schools and community-based intergenerational literacy programs. Since these caregivers are their children’s first and most influential teachers, their involvement is vital to the educational process.
In addition public libraries serve a critical function in fostering learning communities to support and promote literacy. Such activities increasingly include: library-facilitated adult literacy classes, preschool story times, and English classes for English-language learners as well as school-library partnerships that effectively support and extend literacy initiatives within schools (Lance, K.C., Rodney M.J., & Hamilton-Pennell, Christine, 2000). As public libraries’ roles in literacy changes, and patronage grows, the Colorado State Library’s leadership, training, consultation, and information delivery services are essential to improve public libraries’ ability to effectively promote literacy within communities and schools.
Finally, alignment and collaboration between and among state and federal agencies, schools districts, community organizations and businesses strengthen literacy initiatives.
Key collaboration activities of library media staff are planning with teachers, teaching information literacy, and providing in-service training to teachers. Elementary school students with the most collaborative teacher-librarians scored 21% higher on Colorado’s Student Assessment Program (CSAP) reading scores than students with the least collaborative teacher-librarians (Lance, Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2000).
Research suggests that parental involvement in their children’s education (e.g., monitoring academic progress, maintaining communication with the school, having high academic expectations of their children, etc.) reduces the likelihood of children dropping out of school . When parents are involved in the day-to-day school activities of their children, students perform better academically. Parental involvement may include visits to the child’s school, completing tasks at home for the teacher, volunteering for field trips, and attending parent workshops (Dever & Burts, 2002). In a study of 71 Title 1 schools, students showed 50% higher growth in reading scores from grades 3-5 when teachers reported high levels of parental involvement activities in third grade (Darling, 2005). Similar data on the most effective schools shows that achievement in the primary grades is higher in schools that report having links to parents, including parent groups, survey opportunities, regular telephone communication, and at-home reading programs (Taylor, Pearson, Clark, & Walpole, 2000).
- CDE supports districts and schools in implementing the parent involvement requirements of No Child Left Behind, and provides a toolkit for this purpose.
- Grants administered by the Adult and Family Literacy unit support collaborative literacy programs such as the Intergenerational Learning Center.
- Colorado State Library supports library sites’ participation in the Collaborative Summer Library Program's Summer Reading Program.
- This video from Denver Public Schools highlights the importance of collaboration between education professionals and the community.
- CDE partners with the Rocky Mountain Institute, Sopris-West, for Professional Development in literacy and RtI.
- The Colorado Education Initiative partners with the Colorado Department of Education to support initiatives that impact literacy achievement.
- CDE’s Strategic Priorities for Literacy Colorado State Library.
- Engaging Stakeholders: Including Parents and the Community to Sustain Improved Reading Outcomes.