Posted Date: 08/08/2018
By: RISD Media Staff
At Raymondville Independent School District, early childhood literacy has been identified as an essential building block in overall student learning and achievement.
“Research confirms that patterns of learning in preschool years are closely linked to later achievement: children who develop more skills in their preschool years perform better in the primary grades,” explained RISD Curriculum and Instruction Director Andrea Mungia,” Our vision as a district was to provide a literacy application to families before children started school. Our target group was birth to 3rd grade age children.”
The literacy application (app) came in the form of Footsteps2Brillance, a downloadable app that comes in both English and Spanish. The program is available free of charge to all children in the 78580 zip code.
Footsteps2brillance is a breakthrough early learning program that contains over 1,000 interactive books, songs, and games that helps all children to become proficient readers by 3rd grade. The program utilizes fiction, non-fiction, and expository texts to enhance early childhood literacy skills.
Footsteps2brillance has won numerous awards for using game-based methodology to engage students and inspire a love of learning.
“The program has many benefits for young children. It is interactive, meaning kids can read, listen and interact with stories,” added Mungia, now in her 34th year in education, “Kids are allowed to work at their own pace and their individual needs can be addressed.”
Through more than 27,000 hours of use with the Footsteps2brillance program, Raymondville children have read over 363,017 books and have been exposed to 98,265,551 words.
“One of the main reasons we purchased the program was for vocabulary development. We felt that the exposure and re-exposure to words in stories and within the program activities would benefit students,” said Mungia,” Plus, the program is always adding new features. For example, kids can now practice their handwriting and even write their own stories on Footsteps2brillance.”
Parents in the district feel Footsteps2brillance is a vital resource that can be utilized at home to enhance what students learn in the classroom.
“It is an excellent program that both my children use at home,” stated Nikki Montemayor, a Pittman Elementary parent who’s used the program for two years,” it’s easy to use and has become part of our daily routine. Kids can play different games or complete activities that target literacy skills. I’ve seen an improvement in my children’s reading fluency and comprehension.”
Another instrumental program in early literacy at RISD are the PreK3 (half day) and PreK4 (full day) programs that are also available to eligible students free of charge.
Raymondville ISD currently implements a full day schedule using Big Day for Prekindergarten Texas Program at both Pittman Elementary and L.C. Smith Elementary campuses.
The Prekindergarten programs are aligned to the guidelines established by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), which include a comprehensive instructional scope and sequence that consists of Social and Emotional Development, Language and Communication, Emergent Literacy Reading, Emergent Literacy Writing, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts, Physical Development, and Technology.
“We pride ourselves in providing a quality education to all students in the district, starting with our PreK3 and PreK4 programs,” said RISD Superintendent Stetson Roane,” The programs offer integration of all curriculum areas to meet TEA guidelines in English and Spanish. We believe in using innovative technology that supports teachers and extends early learning into the home and community.”
Recent STAAR scores show that early literacy efforts at RISD are headed in the right direction. This year’s third graders, the first to participate in the full day PreK program, saw a 10% increase in STAAR Reading and a 9% increase in STAAR Math scores in comparison with the previous year’s group.
“We were excited to see gains in the early testing grades,” stated Mungia, “we understand that a lot of hard work from students, staff, administrators, and of course parents went into those improved STAAR scores. Our goals for this coming school year include continued growth through focused professional learning, instructional coaching, and to continue providing teachers with necessary resources. We strongly feel the early literacy programs are advantageous to all children in the district.”