Making Meaning Success Stories

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Denver Public Schools

Widespread adoption of Developmental Studies Center’s Making Meaning program began in the Denver Public Schools (DPS) district in 2004. At the same time as the district began using the Making Meaning program, Denver schools began outpacing the state in achievement growth at the elementary level. Student scores examined for this report are pulled from the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP). The state makes CSAP scores available for third–through fifth-grade students in reading, writing, and math. The scores are reported in multiple formats—scale scores, percent proficient/advanced, and median growth percentile—and are available for download.
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Gene Ward Elementary, Las Vegas, NV

Our district was experiencing a lot of changes and my principal determined that our basal was not effective anymore. We were asked to modify our basal—the only program the district provides—and align it to the standards. Another teacher said her school used Making Meaning, and asked if we could get some samples and use it. Our principal agreed to buy one package each for 4th and 5th grade. I’m now a huge proponent of this program. The social-emotional aspect of the program takes me off the stage and puts the learning and the talking in the kids’ hands. I didn’t know how to teach social-emotional skills, but I figured it out as I went along because with Making Meaning, it’s all there. Sixty percent of the students in my class were reading at 3–4 grades below level, and in one year they advanced to only 1–2 grades below level!
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Hewitt-Trussville Middle School, Trussville, AL

Hewitt-Trussville Middle School has 320 sixth-grade students. We have 12 reading classes taught by teachers who also teach an academic subject (language arts, math, science, social studies). Last year was the first full year we implemented the Making Meaning program, and we went step by step with the program. This year, we are doing the same thing, but working on adding in literature circles, book clubs, and other supplements to our Friday classes.
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South Arbor Academy Charter School, Ypsilanti, MI

At South Arbor Academy, kindergarteners whose teachers implemented Making Meaning and Making Meaning Vocabulary—complementary programs that utilize read-alouds to teach reading comprehension and vocabulary- building strategies—demonstrated significant achievement gains over the course of the year, and, encouragingly, lower-achieving students began “catching up” with higher-achieving students. Based on these promising results, the school is expanding implementation to additional grade levels.
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Stratford Academy, Macon, GA

Redonda Mann, Lower School Principal of Stratford Academy, tells how teachers and students have benefitted from the implementation of DSC's reading, vocabulary, and writing programs. "Making Meaning and Being a Writer have given our students great training in working in groups, building their listening skills, sharing with a partner, listening to a partner, and retelling what a partner has said. It was almost like a character education program within the reading program. And that character education carries forward and supports the subsequent classrooms and teachers."
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Trace Crossings Elementary School, Hoover City Schools, Hoover, AL

MM is implemented five days a week. The “To” and “With” lesson days require more time out of the literacy block (30–45 minutes). We have 90-minute blocks for K–3 and 60-minute blocks for 4–5. The key word is consistency!
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W. Reily Brown Elementary School Dover, DE

Monica McCurry was part of the leadership team focused on improving reading comprehension. "With close to 70–80 percent low socioeconomic status across the school reading comprehension is a tough thing for many students. Some of our students don’t have that sense of community; they don’t know how to converse with someone appropriately. I love how the program teaches and encourages responsible behavior with regards to speaking, listening, and being part of a community. I think that the SEL component of the program makes the students very aware of other people’s thoughts, ideas, and opinions—and that’s paramount for learning.