As we unpack the success of the Colorado READ Act, Colorado Succeeds is taking a deeper look into each of the case studies highlighted in our recent implementation study. The third school we are exploring is Rocky Mountain Classical Academy.
Rocky Mountain Classical Academy (RMCA) is a K-8 charter school in Colorado Springs with a student population that draws heavily from military families. It is also richly diverse, with 25% of students either Asian, Russian, Hispanic, or African-American. One of RMCA’s greatest struggles is attendance, as deployments, transfers, and changed assignments keep local families transient. And while the free and reduced lunch rate is reported at 23%, headmaster Christiana Fogler says it is actually higher, as military families tend not to accept federal financial assistance.
Despite these challenges, RMCA has seen great success implementing the READ Act. The school used READ Act funds to purchase a new core curriculum that is more closely aligned with the Colorado Academic Standards, and it has been so successful that they do not have to conduct intervention services as frequently with students. In addition, RMCA has strongly focused on data collection and monitoring practices. Teachers conduct assessments before the school year starts so that appropriate instruction can begin immediately. And during the school year, data is collected and reviewed weekly to inform decisions about student groupings, placement, and intervention. Also key to success at RMCA is their emphasis on parent involvement. They require parents volunteer for the school and/or read to their children for 5-10 minutes a night.
By using data to inform decision-making, embracing higher standards, and encouraging strong involvement from parents, RMCA experienced a 24% decrease in students who needed reading intervention after just one year of READ Act implementation. Among our five case studies, special education students at RMCA experienced the greatest gains, with the number of illiterate students in this subgroup shrinking by 17%. While the RMCA staff are pleased with the progress they have made, they don’t expect results overnight, and they look forward to continued progress.