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Systems Change

Evidence-based programs alone will not allow us to reach our goal of 80% third grade reading proficiency by 2025. We also must pay attention to the systems conditions in which these programs operate. Systems are not broken. They are perfectly aligned to get the results we are achieving now. If we want to get different results we have to understand and shift the system dynamics.

A system is comprised of three elements: the parts, the connections, and the purpose. A focus on programs alone (“the parts”) fatally ignores the impact of the rest of system (the connections and the purpose). According to the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to focus on program adoption without addressing the whole system limits our programmatic impact to about 5%-15% of the population we seek to serve.

We use the ABLe Change Framework to identify systems issues that must be addressed in order to reach our goal of 80% of third graders reading on grade level by 2025. In January 2016 we brought together over 100 people for a two-day workshop to train them in systems thinking. In March and April we partnered with three-dozen nonprofit agencies to survey over 3,000 families, students, educators, nonprofits and funders to do a “system scan.” The United Way of Central Carolinas held over 30 small group “community conversations” with families, educators, and students to dive deeper into these issues.

 In May we brought back the participants from the January workshop for another two-day training to make sense of the system information we collected. In June we convened our working groups to identify five systems change goals. In July we solicited feedback from the local community on these goals. In August 2016 we worked with our working groups to finalize our initial set of systems change goals and objectives.

Systems Change Goal 1: All children and families live, learn and play in literacy-rich environments.
  • OBJECTIVE 1: Create literacy-rich environment in the book desert by providing books in public places where families visit (e.g. childcare centers, schools, doctors offices, libraries, little free libraries, community places)
  • OBJECTIVE 2: Create a literacy-rich environment in the book desert by having trusted stakeholders (e.g., doctors, librarians, faith based leaders, barbers, neighborhood leaders, etc.) communicate the importance of regularly reading with children
  • OBJECTIVE 3: All families understand the importance of providing their children with regular access to text (traditional books, e-books, etc.).
  • OBJECTIVE 4: Encourage and enable families to create literacy-rich environments in the home.
Systems Change Goal 2: Timely communication between early learning programs, schools and home provides caregivers and educators with the information and resources they need to effectively support their child’s reading development at home.
  • OBJECTIVE 1: Early learning programs and schools provide regular information to families about their child’s reading progress in a timely manner.

  • OBJECTIVE 2: Early learning programs and schools provide families with specific information about their child’s reading development needs and possible supportive actions to take at home.

  • OBJECTIVE 3: Early learning programs and schools offer culturally responsive family language and literacy activities at times that are convenient for families.

  • OBJECTIVE 4: Families provide early learning programs and schools with questions or information about their concerns related to their child’s reading progress in a timely manner.

Systems Change Goal 3: Local early language and literacy supports, programs and opportunities are easy to access in our county.
  • OBJECTIVE 1: Early language and literacy programs and supports are offered at times and places that are convenient and accessible to more children and families
  • OBJECTIVE 2: Early language and literacy programs and supports are affordable for all children and families
  • OBJECTIVE 3: Early language and literacy programs and supports are responsive to the specific needs of an ethnically, racially, and linguistically diverse community
  • OBJECTIVE 4: Providers and educators are aware of quality language and literacy services and supports available within the community, communicate the value of them, and refer families to these programs.
  • OBJECTIVE 5: Families are aware of quality language and literacy services and supports available within the community.
Systems Change Goal 4: Early learning, school, summer and tutoring programs work together to provide children and families with aligned, integrated and coordinated language and literacy development experiences.
  • OBJECTIVE 1: Early learning, schools, summer learning programs, and tutoring programs provide each other with timely information and updates on children’s progress and learning needs.
  • OBJECTIVE 2: Summer learning programs use shared application and assessment processes to ensure accessible and coordinated literacy development experiences for children and families
  • OBJECTIVE 3: Early learning, schools, summer learning, and tutoring programs work to inform families and the broader community of available learning supports in a timely manner.
Systems Change Goal 5: Local organizations and staff work together to implement continuous improvement processes to ensure quality implementation, pursuit of outcomes, and effective learning and adaptation.
  • OBJECTIVE 1: Read Charlotte Action Learning Teams and organizational partners are collecting and monitoring implementation and sharing outcome data and adapting their practices in response to what they learn.
  • OBJECTIVE 2: Providers use assessment and monitoring of community indicators to improve outcomes.