I have never seen a program work for native children and children of color the way this program does. It is a culturally responsive, gap closing curriculum.
Read Side by Side is a small literacy publications and consulting company based out of Seattle, WA that is committed to inspiring a love of reading in students world-wide. This company created by teachers, for teachers, stands on the most current literacy research while staying true to the practical needs of the modern classroom.
Sarah Collinge and Bethany Robinson are twin sisters who have a heart for educating students from challenging backgrounds. Both were educators in high poverty schools with students of limited language and literacy experiences. Sarah and Bethany faced challenges each day as they sought to meet the needs of their students with limited resources.
Various initiatives impacted their teaching during this time, including the Read First Initiative, which focused on explicit and systematic reading instruction and a strong emphasis on phonics, and the Balanced Literacy Initiative, which focused on authentic books and independent reading opportunities. While both initiatives had strengths, neither one adequately met the needs of the populations Sarah and Bethany served.
In 2007, after both had been teachers and literacy coaches, opportunities began to open up for these sisters. Sarah was awarded a sabbatical to begin the research to write a professional development book for teachers and Bethany got a job at the state level consulting with schools in improvement. Bethany’s work kept them abreast of the most current research and trends at the national level, while Sarah’s work kept them close to the classroom teacher and the students. They began to explore innovative ways of teaching literacy that would support all students, including students of challenging populations, to successfully access rich and authentic literature.
After two years of research and writing, Sarah went back into the classroom to validate her theories about teaching literacy. She designed units around her newly coined approach, the C.I.A. approach to literacy, and taught them with her 5th grade students. Meanwhile, Bethany was working with the schools in the bottom 5% of the state. One of her schools began to pilot Sarah’s materials in their 5th and 6th grade classrooms.
The results of the pilots were incredible. Both Sarah’s students and the students at the most challenged school in the state made incredible gains on the state test (15-20% gains). At that point, Sarah decided to leave her position teaching, and commit to publishing her work.
In June of 2012, Sarah started the company Read Side by Side. Her first publication, Raising the Standards Through Chapter Books: The C.I.A. Approach, was released in August and her units of study followed. She continued to write and to train teachers across Washington State in her approach. Just one year later she had the commitment of schools around Washington State to use C.I.A. as their adopted literacy curriculum.
In July of 2013, Bethany left her position to join the Read Side by Side team. Bethany supports Sarah with writing and training teachers while also providing on-site consulting with districts who have adopted the curriculum.
Just four years from its conception, Read Side by Side serves teachers in 48 states and 4 countries. But most importantly, Read Side by Side is positively impacting the lives of students and the practice of teachers as they inspire a life-long love of literacy in 21st century classrooms.
Kristin DewitteAdministrator, Seattle, WA
Marie MorseAdministrator, Worcester, MA
Hillary Cullen3rd Grade Teacher, Sunnyside, WA
Haley Maxfield3rd Grade Teacher, Deer Park, WA
Lindsay Buff4th Grade Teacher, Everett, WA
Shelby Liesing5th Grade Teacher, Mukilteo, WA
Melissa PetersenTeacher, Toppenish, WA
Ellen TennisHomeschool Teacher & Parent