NL Reads

North Lawndale Reading for Emotional and Academic Development and Success (NL READS) was launched in 2015 by the Steans Family Foundation to provide comprehensive, holistic support to Preschool through Third grade students at elementary schools in North Lawndale using multi-layered interventions. The goal of NL READS is to increase the percentage of students in North Lawndale who read proficiently by third grade, a critical milestone for success. In exchange for participating, schools agree to commit the staff, time, and resources needed to successfully participate in NL READS activities, both inside and outside of the typical school day. Participating schools engage in professional development opportunities for teachers and school leaders, parent engagement activities, individual and small-group counseling for students, family case management, tutoring, and summer programming in literacy, math, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to help mitigate summer learning loss.

Why this Matters

Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is the most important milestone in a student’s elementary career.  By fourth grade learning to read is no longer emphasized as students are expected to read for information.  This distinction is why reading on grade level by the end of third grade has long-term consequences for children and their communities.  Research findings reported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation indicate that children who get to fourth grade and do not read proficiently are less likely to have success in school and less likely to graduate from high school.  This in turn negatively impacts a child’s life trajectory, earning potential, and their ability to positively contribute to their community.  By focusing on teaching and leadership practices rooted in student data, kindergarten readiness, school attendance, parent engagement, and summer learning, we will help children succeed at reading on grade level by the end of third grade. Since NL READS began, third grade students at NL READSs schools are growing at higher rates than Near Peer comparisons and Network #5 and the Chicago Public School District as a whole.

"Extraordinary challenges require extraordinary measures from all of us.  Business as usual, as schools are ordinarily conducted, won't be enough for the kids in North Lawndale...These kids are going through extraordinary lives and our responses to that need to be extraordinary."

—Dr. Steve Tozer, UIC Urban Education Leadership Program Director