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Read Up with Madison Public Library

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Read Up with Madison Public Library

Madison Public Library, Wis.

Advocacy & Awareness | 2015

Innovation Synopsis

In 2014, Read Up brought four major community partners together to prevent summer learning loss by providing high-quality literacy activities to children at two summer school sites, educating teachers and parents, and giving books to enrolled children. Pre- and post-test scores were used to evaluate the program’s impact.


Madison’s citizenry – and the library’s traditional user base – is predominantly well-educated and white, but Madison schools are experiencing an achievement gap affecting children of color and children in poverty that has sparked citywide debate about educational opportunity in our city. 19% of Madisonians live below the poverty level, and 48% of Madison students qualify for free/reduced lunch. Our traditional summer reading program was not reaching these children or addressing learning loss in a concrete way. Read Up is the first strategic partnership between the three largest providers of summer literacy programs in Madison – Madison Public Library, Madison Metropolitan School District, United Way of Dane County – to share resources and offer a pilot program serving 250 children at two summer school sites.

Key Elements of Innovation

In 2014, 250 students participated across both summer school sites. Project goals were threefold:

  1. Prevent decreases in reading levels among low-income and low-proficiency students during the summer break
  2. Increase the number of books low-income children have at home
  3. Raise the number of parents/guardians who are aware of the importance of summer reading and equipped with strategies to promote reading at home.

Summer reading activities were incorporated throughout the students’ day and families attended two evening programs featuring literacy activities, books for students, and a free dinner.

Achieved Outcomes

75% of Read Up students maintained or increased reading levels over the summer based on DIBELS Word Count Per Minute (WCPM) and Retell. We compared the scores of Read Up students on the MAP Reading to a comparison group using PSM with race, gender, etc. as matching variables. We also compared them to summer school students without Read Up intervention. 67% of Read Up students maintained or increased their MAP Reading score from Spring to Fall; compared to 59% of those with no summer school and 49% of the students in summer school but not in Read Up. Read Up was carefully crafted to maximize the benefits of partnership between these key players in summer literacy efforts and establish a long-term shared commitment to collaboration.