Sonoma County Office of Education

SCOE partners with local nonprofit K3i in effort to increase reading and math skills

12/14/2023 -

K3i teacher and studentThe Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) and county Superintendent of Schools Dr. Amie Carter are supporting efforts to expand an educational initiative that has shown promise improving math and reading scores at two elementary schools in the Sonoma Valley.

Nonprofit K3i’s K-3 Proficiency Project (K-3PP) was first introduced as the Grade Level Proficiency Project at Sonoma Charter School and Sassarini Elementary in Sonoma. STAR testing data from Sonoma Charter last year showed 86% of students in third grade were proficient in reading, while 85% were proficient in math, well ahead of state and regional averages. That represented an increase from 30% in reading and 48% in math since the program was implemented in 2017.

Statewide, about 57% of third-graders in California lack the ability to read proficiently in third grade. In Sonoma County, 56% lack proficiency in reading and 68% do not meet proficiency standards in math, according to results from the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). Literacy by third grade is seen by educational experts as a key determinant of students’ ability to continue to learn as they progress through the school system.

These early results, and the importance of timely interventions for young learners, make the K-3 Proficiency Project worthy of further study, Carter said.

“K3i is offering an exciting opportunity to Sonoma County elementary schools,” Carter said. “They have demonstrated a commitment to results-based accountability and a focus on meaningfully improving the lives and futures of children.”

K3i staff SCOE staff are currently working with K3i to identify two more Sonoma County school sites to adopt the full program for the 2024-25 school year, as well as another set of schools to serve as a control group with the incentive of additional funding and support for educational programs. Through an agreement with K3i and SCOE, educational consulting firm WestEd will independently study the program’s effectiveness and scalability. To ensure the integrity of the data, participating schools must have similar demographic makeup, use STAR testing and Lexia software, and have fewer than 50% of third grade students below the proficiency threshold on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress.

“Students from all grades at Sonoma Charter have demonstrated excellent growth and progress since fall 2020,” WestEd said in a recent evaluation of the program.

K3i teacher and group students

At the heart of the program is teacher development, in-classroom support, and learning how to leverage data to provide individual instruction to help each student on their path to learning to read. K3i staff collaborate with teachers and aides to understand where the student needs more guidance or practice.

“K3i’s approach merits continued study,” Carter said. “We owe it to our students to further explore new strategies that show the potential to boost student performance and tailor learning to individual student needs.”

She stressed the importance of early interventions during elementary school, which can set children on a successful path for the rest of their educational journey and later in life.

“Reading by third grade is critical,” Carter said. “That’s the age when educators say students are moving from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn.’ Third grade reading proficiency is crucial and a goal our young people and community cannot afford to miss.”

Photos courtesy of K3i