• raised $48,492.00
  • target $200,000.00
  • 1

William Prescott Elementary School: From struggling to stellar

Unwilling to accept a “failing school” designation, Chicago’s William H. Prescott Elementary found the answer in a three-year reading and language arts initiative, designed and implemented by the Great Books Foundation. The goal was to improve student achievement and teacher effectiveness through the use of the Junior Great Books program for students and Great Books professional development for teachers. The plan, funded in part by contributions and a grant from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, focused on developing essential inquiry-based teaching and learning skills.

At the end of the three-year program, of the fifth grade students who had started with Junior Great Books in third grade:

  • 63% of the students improved in reading comprehension, as measured by the Illinois State Achievement Test (ISAT).
  • 60% of the students improved in critical thinking skills per teacher assessments.
  • 66% of the students improved in writing skills, as scored by a panel of independent teachers from outside Chicago Public Schools.

Building on the initiative’s success, Prescott expanded Junior Great Books to involve students in every grade. To this day, Junior Great Books remains an essential component of the curriculum, helping Prescott’s teachers and students sustain their stellar work.

Your gift to support Junior Great Books in schools will help thousands of deserving children turn failure into a foundation for lifelong learning and growth.

“I just really understand books. My reading level as of now is, I think, 11th grade, and I do think that Junior Great Books helped a lot with that. My ability… to understand books… and to look back and prove my point is much easier now. It has become a natural thing for me.”


“I think that Junior Great Books… is extremely helpful… not only does it help kids become better readers and have a better understanding of the book, but it also helps improve their confidence by not being afraid to speak up and share their opinions…”