At the Parents as Leaders (PALS) meeting on Sept. 18, Dr. Grenita Lathan reviewed with the PALS team 11 priorities for District 150 for 2014-15. In coming issues of Remarkable Times, we will give details on each of these important goals.
Priority 1: Every entering kindergartner (2014) reading on grade level by the end of third grade (2018).
Why is the end of grade three so important?
According to Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters, a 2013 report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “Reading proficiently by the end of third grade (as measured by NAEP at the beginning of fourth grade) can be a make-or-break benchmark in a child’s educational development. Up until the end of third grade, most children are learning to read. Beginning in fourth grade, however, they are reading to learn, using their skills to gain more information in subjects such as math and science, to solve problems, to think critically about what they are learning, and to act upon and share that knowledge in the world around them.”
District 150’s Reading Buddies program is a key component to achieving this goal. Reading Buddies are adult community volunteers who commit to visiting their assigned school for one hour one day a month. Each volunteer is matched with a team of five volunteers, assigned a specific school, a mutually-agreeable day and time to visit the school, and a group of three students. Once a month, one team member visits the school and meets one-on-one for 20 minutes with each student. According to Taunya Jenkins, Family and Community Coordinator, “The team structure of Reading Buddies means that the volunteer time is not burdensome for any one team member. Since most teams work on a rotating basis, each month one team member gets the month off. It also is a convenient way for companies, church or civic groups to get involved with our students.”
The Reading Buddies program is flexible and in most cases volunteers can request to work with a specific school and a specific day and time. Reading Buddy volunteers must pass a confidential background check through the Department of Human Resources and attend a 90-minute volunteer training session as well as an orientation session at their assigned school.