Riverview Kids

Literacy Leader Award celebrates reading excellence at Riverview Elementary

Big Rapids, MI (February 26, 2024) — Staff and students at Riverview Elementary School in Big Rapids today received a Literacy Leader Award in recognition of their outstanding achievement in reading skills.

The award ceremony, which served as an informal kickoff to National Reading Month in March, included the presentation of a $1,000 check to the school and a tribute from State Rep. Tom Kunse.

TalentFirst President Kevin Stotts applauded the school’s investment and commitment to early literacy.  “We are very excited to celebrate teachers, administrators and staff of Riverview for their efforts in developing such strong scholars and readers,” Stotts said. “We care deeply about literacy because a strong West Michigan starts with children knowing how to read.”

Riverview was one of five elementaries across the 13-county region of West Michigan identified by TalentFirst for its exemplary practices and accomplishment in early literacy.

“We are all extremely proud of our team at Riverview,” said Big Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Tim Haist. “Our students, staff, and families understand the importance of early literacy, and they strive for excellence in developing and growing these necessary skills. Riverview Elementary is truly a leader in literacy!”

The awards program is sponsored by TalentFirst members Autocam Medical, AMDG Architects, 42 North Partners, Metal Flow, Lorin Industries, MKO Holdings, Key Bank and Meijer. Leslie Brown, chair of MetalFlow and a member of TalentFirst’s CEO Council, attended the ceremony at Riverview.

“We all have something to learn from this school and their students,” Brown said. “When we prepare children to read proficiently by third grade, we are setting the stage for their academic and lifelong success. That’s how we ensure a strong and vibrant future for West Michigan.”

TalentFirst, an alliance of West Michigan CEOs, developed the Literacy Leader Awards program following its publication in 2023 of a dashboard tracking third-grade reading scores on the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP), cross-referenced to economic status, for nearly every elementary school in the state. 

Although statewide 2022-23 M-STEP results showed only 40.9% of third-graders scored proficient or advanced for reading, the data had some bright spots. To highlight schools setting a positive example, TalentFirst worked with a trained literacy coach and field instructor to set the following criteria:

  • Higher M-STEP scores and/or growth and outperforming peers with similar economic status
  • Implementation of the General Education Leadership Network’s Literacy Essentials
  • Ongoing professional learning on proven practices aligned with the science of reading
  • The appointment of dedicated literacy coaches in each building
  • Provision of appropriate curricula and resources with systematic phonics instruction
  • The use of formative assessments to influence instruction 
  • Development of detailed school improvement plans with a focus on early literacy outcomes and district alignment among buildings on literacy strategies

In addition to Riverview, the other winners of the Literacy Leader Awards are:

  •  Washington Street Elementary, Otsego
  •  Meadow Ridge Elementary, Rockford
  •  Dutton Elementary, Caledonia
  •  Lincoln Heights Elementary, Greenville