Reading In Motion just added an important new accomplishment to its resume,
one I’m excited about and want you to celebrate right along with us. That
accomplishment is in the form of a rigorous new study that indicates our
newest program innovation – peer coaching – is producing very positive and
sustainable reading results.
A little background on the journey to this accomplishment: several outside
studies from 1997 to 2008 showed the music and drama-based curriculum that
we created could produce greater reading improvement in young students,
compared to students in the same schools who were not getting our
curriculum, when our staff implemented it in classrooms. Having
demonstrated that via scientific studies, we then asked “Can teachers get
the same effects with that curriculum that our staff gets?” To answer this
next question, we trained teachers and then coached them as they delivered
our effective curriculum to their excited Kindergarten and first grade
students. Multiple outside studies from 2009 to 2011 showed that
RIM-trained and coached teachers, using our curriculum, get significantly
greater reading results, compared to non-RIM teachers and even compared to
the same teachers the year prior to using Reading In Motion’s curriculum.
Together, these studies demonstrate that training and coaching teachers is
the ideal kind of support for producing greater reading results with our
great curriculum. Here’s the catch, however – coaching is more expensive
than just sending a box of printed materials and hoping for better results.
So, schools have a hard time sustaining the coaching and the results for
many years, as budgets change and other priorities push to the front.
Reading In Motion has, for the past eight years, been thinking about how we
can help schools continue to get better reading results, while reducing the
cost over time so those results can be sustained. As a result of all that
thinking and some program piloting, we have now created a sustainable
program model. This new model consists, basically, of turning the coaching
over to one or two outstanding teachers at each school, after a year of
initial training and coaching from our staff, who we select, train and
support as “peer coaches”.
I’m thrilled to tell you that the first study of our peer coaches is now
out and it reports very positive results! (The full study and an Executive
Summary are available online at
Here’s my summary of the design and results:
· We wanted to know if RIM-coached teachers produce high levels of
students who read at grade level, and do those same teachers maintain those
results when coached by fellow teachers the following year? (Producing the
same results in Year Two is a desirable outcome, as it shows the program
can be sustained by peer coaches. Producing higher results in Year Two is,
of course, even better.)
· Results: In Kindergarten, study teachers got 98% of their students
to grade level reading in Year One, then increased this to 100% of students
in Year Two. In First Grade, study teachers got 70% of their students to
grade level reading in Year One, then increased this to 78% in Year Two.
· In other words, teachers who were peer coached achieved as good or
better results as they had the prior year with regular coaching – the
desirable outcome we were hoping for!
As a result of this study and its positive findings, we have begun
presenting a new model to outside school districts. In that new model, the
district agrees upfront to move in Year Two to outstanding teachers
becoming Peer Coaches. We set the clear expectation that training and
coaching by our staff in Year One is just a prelude to the real deal –
sustainable peer coaching in Year Two and beyond.
We have also been transitioning a growing number of our Chicago schools to
this peer coaching model after a year or more with our coaches. This
started last year for the study, with two schools. It has doubled this year
to include four Chicago schools that are using peer coaches successfully.
Our plans call for it to continue to grow to serve more schools and more
classrooms in Chicago, increasing year by year.
We will be looking for national funding sources for this, with this
important new study in hand, as we believe this is a very attractive way to
create sustainable change in schools in more districts.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement and good ideas along the
way, all of which helped us get this far and accomplish this trailblazing
On sabbatical in Paris!