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Leading with Effective Early Bilingual Literacy Strategies

The San Mateo-Foster City School District’s January to August 2022 executive summary from Footsteps2Brilliance showcases over 69 million words read and 25,600 hours on literacy. This puts the district on the map, leading the state in effective early literacy strategies reflecting improved reading test scores. Footsteps2Brilliance is a bilingual early literacy program that the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, recently announced a partnership in the August 31, 2022, California Department of Education press release. In addition to this partnership, the CDE will provide $27 million for communities in California to access Footsteps2Brilliance and $250 million for schools to hire literacy coaches.

The San Mateo-Foster City School district initiated the use of Foosteps2Brilliance once it became board approved during the December 16, 2021, regular board meeting. Since the approval, the district has implemented strategies to ensure high-quality usage of the digital biliteracy tool. Superintendent Ochoa introduced the concept of Warm Demands to families stating, “The concept of warm demands refers to a mindset that is based on believing in children, establishing high expectations for them, and offering the necessary support to ensure their growth.”

The district has initiated strategic efforts to increase parent participation with Footsteps2Brilliance by creating and hiring for the new position of Community Services Specialist. The four talented individuals have been assisting families with technology troubleshooting, providing hotspots for internet access, and replacing hardware, so students are able to access this tool with ease. Parent engagements included summer Footsteps2Brilliance workshops with Superintendent Ochoa, providing students with further support, fun activities, and lunch. The district believes students in the San Mateo-Foster City communities have incredible potential to achieve their goals.

These goals are reflected in the recently published L3 Report, outlining the district's 2021 - 2022 state test scores. In addition to the 2022 - 2027 Strategic Plan, the L3 Report is the second document the district has put together for families and the community in the process of transparency. The L3 Report was introduced and reviewed on September 1, 2022, Special Board Study Session available to the public on the San Mateo-Foster City Board of Trustees Youtube channel. The district is in awe of the progress students have made as it reflects the most recent test scores, which counters the New York Times's September 1, 2022 article, highlighting the pandemic's effects on the erasure of two decades of progress in math and reading.

The district will continue to work on strategically integrating at-home early literacy interventions to systematically assist students in excelling in their reading and writing skills. The district initiated a layered communications approach that will continue the conversation of Equity-Focused Student Achievement throughout September. Bringing more voices to join the conversation to build our students up for success through parent participation and effective quality usage of these new interventions.

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