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Superintendent Austin Beutner Announces Significant Improvement In Reading Proficiency Among Students in Primary Promise Program (04-19-21)

CONTACT:                                                                FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Shannon Haber, 213-393-1289                             April 19, 2021

Superintendent Austin Beutner Announces Significant Improvement
In Reading Proficiency Among Students in Primary Promise Program

LOS ANGELES (April 19, 2021) – Superintendent Austin Beutner today announced significant improvement in reading proficiency among 2,500 high-needs students participating in Primary Promise. This program provides extra support in reading instruction to English learners, students experiencing homelessness and foster youth and other high-needs students.

Primary Promise was launched in August 2020 as part of a commitment to help all elementary school students build a foundation in literacy, math and critical thinking skills. Los Angeles Unified added more reading teachers to work directly with about 2,500 students who were struggling to read, with a plan tailored specifically to each student. Students in the Primary Promise program who were well behind in reading to start the school year have already caught up with their peers midway through the school year. 

“We started this effort last August as soon as we had results from the quick diagnostic tests taken by first-graders at the start of the school year,” Superintendent Beutner said. “We knew children just learning to read would be among those most impacted by the shift to online learning and we jumped in with both feet to help. It’s worth noting all of this progress has been made while students are online. Imagine how much more success students will have in this reading program when they’re back in school classrooms with their teachers.”

In Local District South, for example, the percentage of 450 first-graders in the program  meeting grade-level standards in reading increased from 9% at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year to 37% by February. That compares with 37% of all 6,000 first-graders in the local district who met grade-level expectations at the start of the school year and 39% by mid-year.

“What has made the difference is a 10-week cycle of focused, targeted instruction based on the unique needs of each student,” Administrator of Instruction for Local District South Alma Kimura said. “Teachers come together as a team once a week to review the progress, determine where each student needs help and then provide each student what they need.” 

“Learning to read unlocks a young learner’s future,” Chief Academic Officer Alison Yoshimoto-Towery said. “Reading opens doors to all subject areas, fosters self-confidence and critical-thinking skills and sparks a lifelong love of learning.”

Los Angeles Unified is working to expand this program to offer it to students at all schools in the school district.