County students, schools jumping in with Footsteps2Brilliance

Some of Colusa County’s youngest students have become reading machines since the Colusa County Office of Education brought Footsteps2Brilliance — a bilingual mobile literacy program — to the all of county’s residents.

Students from 17 schools in the county have read nearly 23,000 books on the Footsteps2Brilliance mobile and computer app since the program kicked off in late May, with Maxwell Elementary and Williams Elementary leading the charge.

In all, Maxwell Elementary students have read a total of 6,528 books on the app, and have been exposed to a total of 1.9 million words. The students in Williams have read a total of nearly 12,000 books and about 2.9 million words.

Colusa County Superintendent of Schools Mike West said that the app has been a hit in the classroom and at home, and the fact that kids are sitting down and reading is a victory for literacy in and of itself.

“It’s essential that they’re excited about reading. Because it is an interactive media… it makes it something that kids look forward to wanting to play, rather than video games. It puts some pizazz back in reading,” West said. “…We all know, the more you read, the better you are at reading. That’s a fundamental concept we learned, even back when you had to physically turn the pages.”

West said that the most powerful facet of the Footsteps2Brilliance program is the array of data available to educators and administrators on student reading performance — both in school and at home.

“What we do know, is that they are reading books and completing the associated tasks. Before, we didn’t know that, because there were no monitoring tools… It also gives us an understanding of their comprehension,” West said.

In order to have access to that data in the long term, the county’s school districts are now having to decide whether to double down on Footsteps2Brilliance.

“The districts did input money into this program, and so did the county… That was to give us access to the data,” West said. “The data is what really helps drive all of our programs, to determine how we’re going to go forward.”

While parents will continue to have access to the data for their own children and county residents will be able to use the app throughout the five-year trial period, district administrators will need to make a financial commitment to continue to have access to the data provided by the Footsteps2Brilliance app.

Williams and Maxwell have already made that commitment, Pierce has elected to opt out, and Colusa has yet to make a decision.

“Burchfield is doing a test run on it throughout the month of January. I’ve given them access to all the data, and everything along that line, so that they can follow up with it,” West said.

On March 2, from 10 AM to 12 PM, the CCOE will have an official unveiling of the Footsteps2Brilliance program, where they will put on a live demonstration to show how the program is used in participating preschools, and possibly in Maxwell and Williams Elementary schools.

“We’re inviting anyone who wants to be a literary ambassador, and anyone else who may be interested in hearing more about the program,” West said.

Correction: It was reported that Maxwell Unified had signed on for the data portion of the program. Maxwell Superintendent Zach Thurman indicated on Tuesday that the Maxwell Unified School Board of Trustees has not, in fact, signed on for the data portion of the program. Despite hearing the item on at least one occasion in a board meeting, it did not pass for lack of a motion, Thurman said.

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net