By: Mary Bridget Corken-Deutsch, Program Director for the AmeriCorps Partners in Learning Program
AmeriCorps Partners in Learning is a national service program that engages individuals of all ages and backgrounds in service to meet the critical needs of a community. Partners in Learning has been in the Dubuque community since 2000. The program has always been focused around education, however in spring 2014, we rewrote our federal application so our sole focus aligned with the goals of Dubuque’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
In fall 2014, Partners in Learning was awarded the grant and began implementing its new program focused specifically around improving reading levels in kindergarten through third grade students. As part of the new program, 30 AmeriCorps members are trained by the Dubuque Community School District(DCSD) at the beginning of each school year on the district’s specific reading strategies and interventions. Next, the members are placed among 13 elementary schools where they are assigned students who are considered struggling readers based on their Fall DIBELS assessment. Members meet regularly with their assigned students and implement the strategy and intervention assigned to the students by the classroom teacher and instructional coach. The goal is to have all kindergarten through third grade students reading at grade-level by their Spring DIBELS assessment.
There are so many critical pieces to this program that center around collaboration. Administratively, there is steady support from the school district for this program and the district had a significant part in writing the grant focused around the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The school district trains the AmeriCorps members on its reading curriculum to ensure that students receive consistent messages and instruction. Teachers and instructional coaches choose the strategy and intervention that AmeriCorps members implement with each individual student. All this collaboration helps to make the program successful, and the initial feedback from teachers and coaches has been positive.
To learn more about the Partners in Learning program visit www.cityofdubuque.org/americorps.