In 2007, Read to Succeed Buffalo was awarded a highly-competitive four-year grant of $4.1 million from the U.S. Department of Education (one of two awarded in the State of New York and one of 32 awarded nationally), that allowed RTSB to create our Literacy Coaching Model. The ERF investment resulted in improved Kindergarten readiness for more than 900 three- and four-year old children in Bethel Head Start programs in the RTSB Literacy Zone.
Now known as the RTSB Literacy Coaching Program, we are focused on continuing literacy coaching strategies and supports in Head Start and child care settings while expanding the proven coaching strategies into the early grades of public school.
Through a literacy intervention specialist, the RTSB coaching program infuses language and literacy throughout the classroom and builds a teacher's expertise to support emergent literacy and reading skills. We focus on science-based reading research instructional strategies and materials to emphasize the five dimensions of emergent literacy development including alphabet knowledge, language development, vocabulary, phonological awareness, and print awareness in preschool programs. Also emphasized are the five predictors of early reading success; phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary in Kindergarten through third grade.
Professional development is the heart of the Literacy Coaching Program. The literacy intervention specialists work intensely with the instructional staff to build the skills necessary for teachers to infuse literacy into the classroom. By "teaching the teachers" the program can be sustained beyond the current class of children. Now in its fourth year, results for each class of children entering school have shown that RTSB coaching interventions have actually closed the school readiness gap for the low-income children in our classrooms. As a matter of fact - not only have these interventions closed the readiness gap, low-income children in our classrooms actually out-perform their more affluent peers across the country.