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This privately-funded, Catholic-based innovative school provides education to predominantly low-income children, with 78% of students living at or below the poverty level. The student body is diverse, including 38% Hispanic, 34% Caucasian, 18% African American, 3% Asian and 7% other. Serving more than 450 students, UCS has defied the odds. The community predicted the school would close in its first 18 months, but UCS’ doors have remained open and children have been thriving for 45 years.

Students of all levels and skills enter the UCS doors. In recent years, fourth and fifth graders were reading one to three grade levels below their expected level. Principal Pam Delly saw a problem that urgently needed addressed. She vowed to get the reading abilities of all students up, and quickly. She needed a literacy program that was effective, differentiated and personalized, as well as engaging.

When SRA FLEX Literacy was evaluated as an option, the choice was obvious. The efficacy and research-proven, gradual release model of instruction enticed Pam. “If you’ve had all of these educators, all of these researchers working at something and compiling the best together—why not try it and see how the kids react to it,” she wondered.

Winning over the teachers and the students wasn’t a challenge either.

“It’s great. I love doing the stories on FLEX. It’s a lot of fun for me, so in my free time I always do FLEX,” says fourth grader Fernando.

Nora French, teacher in Grades 4-5, highlights the games and technology, “I think that’s what I like about FLEX, it feels like they were almost tricked a little bit—like you’re actually doing work.”

Seeing the excitement of the students and teachers was one thing. Seeing the results was even more impressive.

“We’ve seen a growth in student reading, ” Pam explains. “We’ve also seen children want to read…which is key to doing better, because the more you practice it, the better you get at it.”

And practice it they will. Urban Community School plans to continue to utilize SRA FLEX Literacy for elementary learners, and also implement it in its middle school classrooms in the near future. Watch the success that UCS had in meeting the unique needs of every learner.

SRA FLEX Literacy is developed around a blended learning framework. Students interact with 1) comprehensive teacher-led print materials, 2) digital instruction, and 3) collaborative project activities that afford highly effective reading mastery. Students gained improved reading comprehension, enjoyment of reading, and improved Lexile scores, leading to improved self-esteem and a greater chance at passing state-standard assessments and tests.