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Anna Kirchgater Elementary School in the Elk Grove Unified School District is boosting state test scores with new leadership in the mix and and a hunger for results in reading.


Since 1957, Anna Kirchgater Elementary School, named after a legendary strict no-nonsense Elk Grove grammar school teacher with high expectations for all students, the school’s population has doubled to nearly 700. New to Kirchgater, Principal Cheri Sanchez aims to continue the school’s rich tradition of setting high expectations and have all students perform at or above grade level in reading.

Principal Sanchez noted literacy as a long-time goal at Kirchgater, and recent changes have resulted in soaring student success with this year’s state assessment scores rising over 8 percent. The state average increase was only 1 percent. With the increased emphasis on reading, the school anticipates double digit improvement each year to eventually become a high performing school within the next three to five years, ranking amongst the finest that the Elk Grove Unified School District has to offer.

The approach is simple at Kirchgater; it is to teach to each child’s individual reading level and assess their progress throughout the school year. Principal Sanchez says, “Our belief is that if we truly understand where each child’s instructional needs are, we will be capable of addressing these needs and will be able to bring them up to grade level or beyond in a relatively short period of time.” To uphold this belief, each teacher explicitly teaches their students at their instructional reading levels each day through the use of an approach called Guided Reading—  a method of teaching reading where the teacher guides students in small group instruction to fill in their gaps of knowledge and bring them up to the next level. The increase in student performance has also made a positive change in the school’s culture as students are more confident in themselves and caring of others.

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