Book Review

Delivering on the Promise of the 95% Reading and Math

by Lynn Fielding, Nancy Kerr and Paul Rosier, New Foundation Press, Kennewick, Wash., 2004, 328 pp. with index, $17.95 softcover

There are no silver bullets, quick fixes or single books that have all of the answers for administrators and board members in their quest for continuous school improvement. But there is a growing awareness of the depth of the work, the need for a large supply of tools and a library of resources.

Delivering on the Promise of the 95% Reading and Math by Lynn Fielding, Nancy Kerr and Paul Rosier is a required read for those serious about achieving seemingly impossible goals. Rosier was the superintendent of the Kennewick, Wash., schools at the time.

This book details a board/superintendent mandate in Kennewick set in 1995 that 90 percent of 2nd graders would be reading at grade level by 1998. By the end of 1995, all grade levels were held up to equally high performance stand-ards. Progress started out slowly and was almost nonexistent at some levels.

This book chronicles the good, the bad and the achievements that resulted when a district leadership team worked in collaboration with a community, using data to drive decisions.

Delivering on the Promise reflects the human side of the change process. Although the book focuses on the use of direct instruction, it also includes many other research-based strategies and interventions. One was the initiation of a data system that focused data down to an individual learner rather than always concentrating on grade-level results. The use of growth reports is crucial toward making what seemed impossible — 95 percent reading at grade level — happen.

I have recommended this book to many in educational leadership. It is a quick and easy read, but you should have your highlighter ready.

Reviewed by Donna McCaw, associate professor of educational leadership, Western Illinois University