Asbury Park Intervention District Awarded for Holistic Approach to Advancing Literacy Achievement

Industry News
New Jersey school district recognized for extraordinary reading success and improved graduation rates

Global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) announced that it has named the Asbury Park School District (APSD) an intervention district of excellence for its holistic, student-centered approach to improving reading and literacy skills. APSD's implementation of the reading intervention programs READ 180 and System 44 and iRead, embodies best practice for promoting literacy gains at every grade level and offers a strong example for educators nationwide.

As a result of the district's comprehensive approach to reading intervention, every APSD school surpassed their 2015-16 literacy improvement targets, with 68 percent of students in Asbury Park's reading acceleration program exceeding one year's growth and 41 percent exceeding two years' growth. These students entered the program reading three to six+ years below grade level and previously averaged 0.4 to 0.5 years of growth per school year. These gains are being matched by rising graduation rates, which grew from 49 percent in 2014 and 66 percent in 2015 to 73 percent in 2016.

ASPD's state-level assessment results also show strong literacy gains. In six of the nine grade levels tested (3-12), there was a marked decrease in the percent of students performing below grade level in language arts. Four grades outpaced New Jersey's overall performance, with the biggest improvement seen in grades 7 (16 percent), 10 (25 percent) and 11 (13 percent). This decrease was met by corresponding increases in students performing at grade level, with students in grades 9 and 10 showing particularly dramatic gains in meeting college and career readiness standards (8 and 12 percent, respectively).

HMH's recognition of APSD honors the district's unrelenting commitment to supporting its students and teachers and its targeted focus on executional gains around four key instructional areas:

  • Effective and clear communication: the Asbury Park team has structured its turnaround efforts district-wide around a clearly articulated mission of "Building a Brighter Future" and today, 90 percent of teachers agree that their day to day actions are aligned to this goal.
  • Focused professional development: every educator in the district receives 90 minutes of professional learning eight times a year that is both targeted to individual teacher needs and focused solely on raising student achievement.
  • High level of community engagement: APSD has taken concrete steps to engage families. For example, it opened a new Family Center in April 2015 that offers adult literacy, ESL and GED classes and holds regular parent sessions to connect with the community. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and 80 percent of teachers agree that active community involvement is encouraged.
  • High expectations of students: The APSD team has made raising expectation for students one of its top priorities alongside its literacy goals and efforts to change school culture is yielding results with 70 percent of teachers saying in a 2016 survey that their school has high expectations for all students.

"It is truly remarkable to see the improvement that has been made across the Asbury Park School District in little more than a year," said Margery Mayer, Executive Vice President, Intervention Solutions Group, HMH. "While the work is ongoing, the entire team is achieving remarkable results and exemplifies literacy improvement instruction at its best. It is a privilege for us to work in partnership with APSD and see how students are gaining confidence every day, which will lead to even more academic and lifelong success." 

"We are honored to be named a District of Excellence," said Sancha Gray, Director of Curriculum. "Teachers, students, families and faculty believe in the work that everyone is undertaking on behalf of our students. I see this every day; teachers pushing their students to achieve more, tackle harder books and more challenging math, all because they share in the belief that success is possible."

"This recognition is a testament to the students, teachers, and families of APSD," said Superintendent Dr. Lamont Repollet. "I am so proud of our entire community; its incredible efforts are truly helping to guide and reinforce our work to build a brighter future for the young people of Asbury Park."

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