i3 - Modeling Exemplary Literacy Instruction
In fall 2010, CLI’s game-changing intervention, Modeling Exemplary Literacy Instruction (MELI) was one of 49 projects—out of nearly 1,700 applicants—chosen by the U.S. Department of Education to receive a grant from its Investing in Innovation (i3) fund. The purpose of the i3 fund is to support and expand innovative programs with a record of improving student achievement in order to strengthen public education in the United States and close the vast achievement gaps between students of different backgrounds. CLI’s grant was awarded in the i3 program’s “Validation” category, which makes it one of only 19 i3 service models nationwide that have proven evidence of success.
With this federal i3 grant and additional philanthropic support, CLI launched a 5-year project to implement and study our MELI program on a larger scale.
Our MELI program raises student literacy achievement by investing in teachers’ instructional skills, and by developing grade-level teams of teachers into collaborative, professional learning communities. In the schools we work with, teachers have access to the tools, training, and support they need to effectively teach children from low-income neighborhoods how to read and write. Our intervention shows that exemplary teaching is observable, measurable, replicable, and scalable. It is a unique form of professional development that builds and sustains schools’ internal capacity to maintain high-quality instruction with minimal continued costs.
During the 5-year grant period, CLI anticipates working with more than 460 kindergarten through third grade teachers in 39 randomly-selected public schools in Camden, NJ; Chicago, IL; Newark, NJ; and Philadelphia, PA. In total we expect to reach over 46,000 students.
Key features of the MELITM program are:
- To train all teachers on each grade level in high-impact strategies and techniques for literacy instruction in order to establish shared standards of practice and inspire high expectations of students.
- To identify, recruit, and develop one Model Classroom teacher per grade in every school, who will receive more intensive coaching and support, preparing him or her to help colleagues use best practices in literacy long after CLI’s intervention is complete. Model Classroom teachers are not “superheroes”—they are simply teachers who are willing to work hard to learn more about instruction and to help establish a team of teachers within their own schools who know how to promote student achievement. Model Classroom teachers raise expectations, standardize practices, and serve as mentors and resources to other district teachers.
- To collaborate with school leaders to ensure that they know how to leverage their Model Classrooms to sustain and expand excellent literacy instruction. By supporting Model Classrooms, principals and superintendents see results: higher achieving students, higher quality teachers, and a growing commitment to exemplary practices.
The results of our MELI project are externally evaluated by American Institutes for Research (AIR), which is conducting a randomized controlled trial to measure the impact of our work on student achievement and teacher instruction. We will use the findings of this study to refine our project design, and at the end of the five year grant period, we will disseminate our conclusions to diverse audiences of teachers, school officials, education policy makers, and philanthropists in order to promote further replication of the MELI program model.
The MELI project is an unprecedented chance for CLI to immediately benefit almost 50,000 students, teachers and administrators. Over the longer term, the research results from MELI will provide invaluable evidence for the strength of our program model, thus allowing CLI to serve hundreds of thousands of students in years to come.
CLI and its i3 grant spotlighted by High Impact Philanthropy Blog as a “promising practice in the realm of education”
Contents were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Investing in Innovation (i3) Program. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal government.