GLR May 2018 New..

What’s Happening

Dear Grade Level Reading Coalition:

I hope this message finds everyone well and enjoying the last few months of school.

We are looking forward to seeing everyone for the next GLR Coalition Meeting on Wednesday, June 6th from 9:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M. at the Family League of Baltimore (2305 N. Charles St).

We will go into more detail about the progress of our First Grade work, which you will also learn more about in this newsletter, and we are also looking forward to your input on how we can improve for next school year.

As many of you are aware, the recently released 2017 NAEP scores show that only 13% of Baltimore City Public Schools 4th graders are proficient in reading at the start of the year. While these scores are deeply discouraging, GLR is confident that the momentum and strong partnership outlined in City School’s Blueprint literacy initiatives, coupled with the amazing work of other partners in our city to improve literacy rates, will produce an upward trajectory in 2019. We look forward to being part of this work.

Please do not hesitate to share to reach out with any questions or feedback you may have.

In Partnership,
Angelique Jessup
Program Director
Baltimore Campaign for Grade Level Reading

Staffing Changes

We want to share that, Carrie Finkelstein, our amazing Program Manager, will be leaving us at the end of July to pursue her Masters in Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh. She will be embarking on a wonderful opportunity to hone her interest in community organizing and social justice. It goes without saying that she will be deeply missed by the GLR community.

We are now hiring for her position and would love for you to share the job posting with your networks.

First Grade Work Update

The period spanning the end of kindergarten through the beginning of 2nd grade is critical for on track literacy growth. Data shows that far too many City Schools students are falling off track in 1st grade and have difficulty overcoming literacy challenges in subsequent grades, exemplifying the strong need for a focus on 1st grade as a foundation for City Schools’ Blueprint literacy goals.

Knowing this information, Grade Level Reading has been partnering with Improving Education, a non-profit working closely with K and 1st grade teachers to ensure students stay on track in 1st grade by giving families actionable ways they can support reading growth at home. As part of this effort, all 1st graders received their own copy of Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman with tips on reading at home. Are You My Mother is a book that is utilized as part of the curriculum in the spring, allowing students to share what they learned in the classroom at home.

In addition, students had a visit from their local Pratt library for a story time and to learn more about what they can do at the library.

1st graders at these schools will receive one more book this school year to help build their home library and will go on a trip to their local Pratt branch to learn more about summer reading.

The following schools are participating in this project:

  • Abbottston Elementary
  • Armistead Gardens Elementary/Middle
  • Lakeland Elementary/Middle
  • Liberty Elementary Matthew Henson Elementary
  • Woodhome Elementary/Middle

Focus Group Update

As part of our 1st grade project, Grade Level Reading has been speaking with parents and caregivers of K-2nd graders to learn what information they would like to receive about their child’s reading progress and ways they can help at home. We have hosted 10 focus groups and have spoken to over 70 parents/caregivers. These focus groups will wrap up mid-May and we will analyze what we’ve heard to determine next steps for how we can improve communication around literacy milestones for parents/caregivers.

We are looking for volunteers to review notes from the focus groups and help us identify key themes. If you are interested in this, please email Angelique at

Baltimore City Public Schools Curriculum Audit

City Schools recently released results of their literacy curriculum audit. You can see findings as well as opportunities for teachers, community members and staff to give feedback as part of their curriculum review, revision & adoption strategy here.

Heart of the School Tickets on Sale

The 3rd annual Heart of the School Awards, hosted by The Fund For Educational Excellence, is on Monday, May 21st at the Hippodrome Theater. The evening includes the announcement of five Heart of the School Award winners, inspiring presentations and a lavish supper – and most importantly, our thanks to all of our tireless school leaders.

Be part of the celebration! Purchase a ticket or make a donation today to show your support for the tireless efforts of our City Schools principals.

Coalition Updates

As a way to stay connected, we include Coalition needs in our monthly newsletter. Please email Carrie Finkelstein if there is a need or announcement you would like the Coalition to know about at

  • If you– or someone you know — are 18-24 and studied a trade in a Baltimore City Public Schools high school, the Fund for Educational Excellence wants to hear about your experience. Participate in a 45-minute interview for our research study, and earn $30 for your time. More information here.
  • The Maryland Book Bank has moved! Visit them in their new location 1794 Union Ave Baltimore MD 21211. Hours and more information can be found here.
  • Check out and share Baltimore Recreation and Parks Summer Guide to find fun summer programming and events.
  • Check out this op-ed in the Baltimore Sun by Kalman R. Hettleman about the state of education in Maryland and the importance of funding the Kirwan Commission recommendations.
  • Check out this interesting article in the Baltimore Sun about potential charter funding cuts.