By the early 2000s, the Consortium had become an ongoing source of support for its expanding network of schools and a launchpad for initiatives aimed at addressing some of their specific concerns. Among these, at the time, were early literacy and coping with a new federal law called No Child Left Behind (NCLB) that had ushered in new testing requirements, among other regulations.
On the literacy front, ongoing feedback from educators pointed to wide disparities in the level of preparation kids received before entering school, even in the same district, with some starting first grade already reading at a 2nd grade level, while others began without knowing their ABCs, much less how to sound out a word.
In an effort to help close the gap, the Consortium published A Guide to Your Child’s Literacy. The intent was to give new parents a very accessibly written how-to book that showed ways to begin cultivating reading skills in children as young as 3 months. Many of the guides were distributed through the Nurse Family Partnership, a county-funded program that provided in-home nursing support for new mothers in low-income communities.
To assess the impact of NCLB, the Consortium worked with Local Education Funds (LEFs) across the state gathering information from districts and taking their concerns to federal legislators. At the state level, the Consortium also organized students to testify in the Pennsylvania legislature about the impact NCLB was having in their schools.