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K-2 Literacy Initiative

Pilot Year: 2019-2020 * Goal Year: 2022-2023 Last Updated: 3/19/2021 3:59 PM

Propel Schools believes that all scholars can and will read proficiently by the end of second grade. The K-2 Initiative is built around this belief. Utilizing over 30 years of research and the science of reading is the rationale of what we use to help our scholars achieve. The pleas of kindergarten educators at Propel inspired the K-2 Initiative. They were distraught at the number of children entering kindergarten without basic early literacy skills. Data revealed the gravity of their outcry. In five years, the percentage of children entering kindergarten demonstrating reading readiness skills dropped from 56% to 33% across Propel's eight elementary schools. This, coupled with devastating statistics predicting our scholars' futures, was the crux of the need for this audacious change. Three necessary parts of this initiative are Instructional Specialists, the Teacher Leader Cadre (TLC), and Family Engagement.

Instructional Specialists (IS)


In a teamwork approach, both the lead educator and the Instructional Specialist (IS) provide daily core and supplemental reading instruction. Providing a well-trained, academic IS in each classroom affords the opportunity to reach the needs of all scholars. Instructional Specialists will provide further instruction for scholars that need help filling in the gaps of their core education.

After administering intentional benchmark assessments, the Instructional Specialist and Lead Educator will interpret the data to determine the scholars' readiness for reading and to provide prescriptive interventions that are in alignment with the science of reading. Communication and planning with their lead educator is key to positive outcomes for our scholars. 

Scholar reading on an ipad

 "Having my incredible Instructional Specialist in our classroom this year was invaluable. She was able to pull every student during the week for small group instruction in order to ensure that each student in the classroom was reaching mastery and being challenged with rigorous work. She took advantage of every second she had with our scholars, whether it be teaching letter sounds at bathroom breaks or reviewing words of the week as they entered the classroom each morning. I am so grateful for the K-2 Initiative in our district and the transformative instruction our ISs bring to the classroom, and can't wait to continue to witness the progress in years to come."

- Rachel West (Kindergarten Educator)

Scholar reading

Scholar reading

Teacher Leader Cadre (TLC)


The Teacher Leader Cadre is a team of highly effective educators that support the profession with changing and growing needs to be successful providing a phenomenal sense of urgency and desire to be the best for our scholars.

This team works to support other K-2 educators through modeling and collaboration to give them the opportunity to experience rigor and truth that our scholars can and will achieve the high expectations by demonstrating...

  • growing and changing classrooms
  • classroom management skills
  • data-driven instruction, and
  • strong instructional practices within their classrooms

Family Engagement

Propel recognizes the importance of family engagement and invites families into a partnership with their scholars' education and learning journey. During registration periods, Propel staff welcomes new families and provides literary resources to encourage practicing at home together. Increasing exposure to these materials helps bridge the gap between home and at school. These literary resources include:

  • books
  • writing materials
  • simple activities to accelerate learning
  • parent guides
  • social learning videos
  • engaging academic videos
  • informative behavioral videos

Seesaw, an electronic platform for student-driven digital portfolios and simple parent communication, became an integral part of scholar learning and parent involvement throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. Parents have direct access to classroom pictures, videos, recordings and evidence of their child's learning process, as well as their academic, social, and performing activities. This gives access so that parents can still be present in their child's education, even if they have a busy work schedule!


scholar reading and writing

"We are so glad we decided to enroll Zaiden in Propel McKeesport. He has made so much progress this year. He loves math and flies through addition and subtraction problems and is learning how to read and write on his own. We would definitely recommend Propel to families."

- Family of a McKeesport Scholar



scholars reading

Scholar reading



Our first cohort (Kindergarten 2019/2020) entered school demonstrating a  33% (district-wide average) in reading readiness skills. By the middle of the year, before the COVID interruption, this cohort more than doubled their early reading readiness skills and abundantly proved the significant impact of the components of our K-2 Literacy Initiative.

Nine out of 16 of our classrooms achieved our end of year goal of 70%  toward early literacy reading proficiency. Although COVID did interrupt the ability to administer end of year benchmark assessments, from the data, we estimated that 13 out of the 16 Kindergarten classrooms would have reached or far surpassed our goal of 70% proficiency or higher during the first year of implementation of the K-2 Initiative.

This data is inspiring, hopeful, and gives the momentum to continue to make a positive impact on our children's lives and futures.


K-2 Literacy Initiative—Wish List
To support Propel's K-2 Initiative's vision, you can browse their Wish List items below. Simply select which need items you wish to donate, fill out the donation form, and we'll take care of the rest!

scholar reading

This is a photo of five scholars smiling.

logo of Braddock Hills Reading Lions mascot

Whiteboards for 200 scholars


Puppets for classrooms


Family Engagement Items, including books & games.