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Preschoolers Make Big Gains in Reading

Four preschool sites at the Long Beach Unified School District Child Development Centers continue to see remarkable results as they implement a $3.5 million federal Early Reading First grant.

Research shows that good preschools improve children's performance later in school and life perhaps more than any other educational intervention.  The CDCs began implementing the grant three years ago to support students' literacy.

LBUSD recently received data comparing the results of Early Reading First programs across the nation.  The results show that Long Beach preschoolers outperformed the national average by 22 percent on gains in vocabulary and letter knowledge, both key indicators of a students' future success in school.

Last school year, Early Reading First preschooler participants completed their kindergarten year in LBUSD with 88 percent of them reading at or above grade level on the school district's Benchmark Book Assessments, compared to 77 percent for the rest of the district.  Early Reading First students completing first grade also are more likely to continue reading at or above grade level compared to their counterparts in the rest of the district.

The reading grant serves LBUSD's state-subsidized preschools for low-income families, providing four years of intensive, research-based professional development and coaching for teachers, plus family literacy activities.

CDCs serve students at 20 locations.  Last year the CDCs began training the rest of their teachers on the use of these effective instructional strategies to increase the academic achievement of their more than 1,000 at risk preschoolers.  The training continues this year.

Long Beach Rotary contributes to the early literacy effort.  The service club has donated thousands of books to the CDCs, beefing up classroom libraries and giving each child a book of their own to keep.