When schools are unable to meet the needs of their students, our society suffers – now and for years to come. Junior Great Books gives educators and students the tools and training they need to turn a 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 intervention, 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 and Great Books Professional Learning. The intervention focused on the essential skills of inquiry-based teaching and learning.
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.
To this day, Junior Great Books remains an essential component of the school’s curriculum across all grade levels.
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This three-year program was funded by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Trust.
In the spring of 2013 eighth-grade students who spent six years in Junior Great Books reflected on its impact:
“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…”