Reading Success Among African American Males Captures Attention of WhatWorksSC of the Riley Institute at Furman University

Based on the documented growth in reading achievement among African American males at Clinton Elementary School in South Carolina, American Reading Company’s 100 Book Challenge has been identified by the WhatWorksSC Clearinghouse as a program that makes education more individualized for students. This success story should be welcome news for the many urban school groups, including the Council of Great City Schools, which have called for White House initiatives to address the educational crisis facing African American males nationwide.

WhatWorksSC is an evolving compilation of initiatives that exemplify the essential key strategies for improving public schools that were identified by the Riley Institute at Furman through a study funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. “In Their Own Words: A Public Vision for Educational Excellence in South Carolina,” the largest study ever conducted in the state, details key strategies for creating world-class schools in South Carolina, derived from 3000 focus group hours with more than 800 stakeholders. WhatWorksSC ties those strategies to a number of promising in-state initiatives to serve as a resource for educators, students, the community and policy makers.

Developed by American Reading Company, 100 Book Challenge is a nationally recognized reading program built around the Common Core Standards that is proven to boost the reading test scores of participating students. In South Carolina alone, schools in 22 of state’s 86 public school districts (or 25.6% of districts) have participated in the company’s programs over the past three years. In 2009, Clinton Elementary School in Lancaster County partnered with American Reading Company to prepare every young student, regardless of race, gender or income, for college and career readiness. In 2010, African American males demonstrated significant growth on the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS) language arts exam (see Case Study Results).

“With measured daily parent involvement, teacher expertise, and Principal Rachel Ray’s instructional leadership, African American males are making impressive gains in reading achievement,” said Quality Quinn, Executive Vice President at American Reading Company. “Clinton Elementary School is a living example of the type of transformational change we all talk about.”

As a program featured on the Riley Institute’s WhatWorksSC clearinghouse, the initiative is eligible for the first annual Dick and Tunky Riley WhatWorksSC Award for Excellence, made possible through the collaboration with South Carolina Future Minds and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. The winner will be announced at the culminating event of the annual South Carolina Public Education Partners meeting, tentatively scheduled for October 26th in Columbia.

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