Here are brief descriptions of some of the work AFT affiliates have been doing to improve early reading instruction in their districts' schools.
Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals (RIFTHP)
Building on a long tradition of several local affiliates that have been providing professional development to members through the AFT ER&D program, this state affiliate applied for and was selected to be the professional development provider for all K-3 teachers and literacy coaches in Reading First schools statewide. Reading First school staff complete two of several ER&D courses, Beginning Reading Instruction and Reading Comprehension Instruction. Like all ER&D courses, these provide participants with an understanding of the research as well as instructional strategies aligned to that research.
In addition, the state federation supports several localaffiliates in districts identified as needing "intervention/corrective action." For instance, in Providence, the RIFTHP supports the local in its partnership with the district to use ER&D Beginning Reading Instruction to train teachers and develop curriculum for its Ramp Up Camp for incoming first- through third-graders experiencing reading difficulty.
Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association (CTA)
To address the educational needs of its lowest performing students, the Palm Beach County (Fla.) Classroom Teachers Association has partnered with the Palm Beach County School District to implement a pilot program in six high- needs schools. Recognizing the impact that knowledgeable teachers can make on improving student achievement, beginning in the 2006-07 school year, the CTA—with support from the AFT—provided ER&D professional development courses in Foundations of Effective Instruction and in reading instruction to all 400 teachers at two elementary schools, one alternative and one middle school, and two high schools. CTA will provide additional ER&D training during the 2007-08 school year.
Toledo Federation of Teachers
Six years ago, the Toledo (Ohio) Federation of Teachers partnered with the school district to create Toledo's Reading Academy, an initiative to improve early literacy. The Reading Academy provides professional development for teachers, a summer school for third- or fourth-graders who had failed the state reading test, and intensive interventions for students at risk for reading failure. More than 70 percent of summer school students pass the state test at the end of the summer, and the Reading Academy's intervention program, ACE (Achieving Content Excellence) is the largest of the 50-plus providers of supplemental educational services in the city.