GUSD Literacy Partnership


GUSD Literacy Partnership is sponsored by Goleta Union School District and United Way.


In 2016, United Way of Santa Barbara County and the Goleta Union School District launched a three-year partnership to provide the Power Reading literacy improvement program to all 3,500 students in the District’s nine schools.

The partnership is supported by extensive teacher involvement, training, and ongoing standards-based evaluation by United Way. When Power Reading is employed as part of a blended educational model that incorporates traditional teaching methods, the results can be significant. During the partnership’s second year of implementation, the percentage of students working below grade level decreased from 66% to 38%.

"United Way is a highly valued partner with the Goleta Union School District. Our K-6 students’ reading skills have improved greatly due to reading development programs such as Lexia and Reading Plus. Fun in the Sun is a highly engaging program designed to support our children during the summer months. We love the Kindergarten Success Institute because it provides an essential foundation for our incoming kindergarten students. None of this would be possible without United Way.” - Donna Lewis, Superintendent, Goleta Union School District.


About United for Literacy and Power Reading

The United for Literacy Initiative was born out of a major effort to discover what local residents saw as the most pressing issues facing our community over the next ten years. We found that citizens from all walks of life were deeply concerned about the state of our educational system and eager to improve it. To serve this need, United Way of Santa Barbara County launched the United for Literacy Initiative in 2010.

We search for effective ways to implement United for Literacy's multi-pronged approach to literacy improvement, and were fortunate to find best-practice based software tools and teacher techniques that provide outstanding results. These sophisticated programs became the key Power Reading component for our initiative.

Every student works on an internet-connected tablet or computer, and is tracked individually. Their progress is monitored, and lessons are constantly adjusted to focus on exactly what each student needs to practice. Everyone advances at their own pace, with learners moving on to new material only when they are truly ready. The Power Reading Program's versatility makes it ideal for the Goleta Union School District, where it can be used in every classroom and for students at any level.


Power Reading Works - and the Results Prove It

After seven months of consistent Power Reading use, teacher training, and support at El Camino Elementary School - one of our earliest Power Reading adopters in Goleta, and a school with high numbers of financially and academically at-risk students - the percentage of students who were on-target to meet grade-level benchmarks increased from 15% to 24%. Additionally, in February 2016, El Camino became on of the very few schools in Santa Barbara County to ever exits Program improvement, a Department of Education classification for schools that do not meet yearly progress goals.

Taking a Successful Partnership to the Next Level

After four years of excellent results at five Goleta Union Schools, United Way of Santa Barbara County's Power Reading Program is being expanded to all nine schools in the Goleta Union School District. The first phase of the partnership has spanned a three-year period from August 2016 to August 2019. This district-wide project - with its individualized, research-based literacy tools and techniques - has the potential to significantly improve the futures of thousands of children and their families.

When the expanded partnerships began in August 2016, Lexia Reading software was made available to students, teachers, and parents throughout the District. The total project cost is $200,000. Approximately $20,000 is needed to license the software for each of the District's nine schools, and the remaining 10% will be used for training and support. United Way staff will train District educators, principals, and staff to administer Lexia Reafing software according to national best practices and current research. Training will also focus on maximizing student achievement, monitoring student and class progress, and agjusting the curriculum.

After the school year begins, United Way staff will enter all student information into the program, monitor usage patterns, and work with the District to make improvements that will maximze the program's impact. Throughout the partnership, United Way will provide ongoing training to teachers and administrators, supporting those who need assistance, and helping with the compilation and analysis of data at individual, class, school, and district levels.


Sponsorship Opportunities

Why Goleta? The nine school districts in the Goleta Union School District serve a very socio-economically diverse group of students, making it extremely challenging to provide tools and instruction that can be implemented on a ditrict-wide level. Of the estimated 3,700 children currently enrolled, only half are deemed proficient in English Language arts, more than a third are English Language learners, and approximately 44% are considered socio-economically disadvantaged. 

Your sponsorship of the Goleta Union School District Literacy Partnership will provide cutting-edge reading improvement tools, teacher training, and support for Pre-K through Fifth Grade students and their families for three full years.