Read 2 Learn Begins 4th Year
Read 2 Learn Begins 4th Year
In three years, volunteers invested more than 19,000 hours in helping children read
Read 2 Learn Coordinator January Jones highlights the successes of Read 2 Learn with a new crop of volunteers at a special training session Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016.
One of the Wichita Falls ISD’s most successful programs is beginning its fourth year Oct. 10.
The Read 2 Learn program, which was pioneered in Wichita Falls three years ago, continues helping second graders with their reading skills so they will read on grade level by third grade.
Studies confirm the importance of reading to learn – not learning to read – by the time children begin third grade.
Children are three times less likely to graduate from high school if they can’t read on grade level by third grade; if they are economically disadvantaged, they are 13 times less likely to graduate if their reading skills are not up to par by third grade.
“The odds are stacked against them if they can’t read, especially if they are economically disadvantaged,” said January Jones, district coordinator of the Partners in Education program, which oversees Read 2 Learn.
Fourth year now underway
Read 2 Learn hosted its fourth annual volunteer training session and pizza luncheon Thursday, Oct. 6.
Today the program serves 15 WFISD campuses. Most recently, it expanded to Crockett and Lamar Elementary Schools.
Since its inception, volunteers have invested more than 19,000 hours in the program to help 846 students read, according to Ms. Jones.
“This program would not exist if it were not for the army of volunteers,” said Ms. Jones.
The program is particularly helpful for the district’s 66 percent of economically disadvantaged children, those who qualify for free and reduced-priced lunches.
How it’s done
Read 2 Learn trains and coordinates the efforts of volunteers who visit schools once or twice a week for 30 minutes to read to a second-grader.
Volunteers select a school, are assigned to a specific child, then visit him or her once or twice a week, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Volunteers use a simple program that takes a child through a system of leveled reading pamphlets that conclude with a 10-point quiz that measures the child’s comprehension.
As a child’s reading improves, he advances to higher and higher reading levels with more challenging reading material.
In the program’s first year, 350 volunteers helped 196 second-graders. By 2014-2015, the program had 400 volunteers and expanded to include 330 second- and third-graders.
But coordinators decided the real benefit to children was at the second-grade level, and so by 2015-2016, the program’s 435 volunteers reverted back to serving 320 second-graders only.
Businesses provide incentives
Several local businesses assist the program by providing reading incentives. For example, Chick-Fil-A provides parties for children at each campus, which are attended by the Chick- Fil-A cow mascot. With the exception of children from the Fowler and West Foundation campuses, about 90 percent of the children at the Chick-Fil-A parties indicate that the party is their first time to eat Chick-Fil-A food.
Local businesses like Raising Cane’s, Castaway Cove, the Kiwanis Club, and Downtown Rotary also provide reading incentives for Read 2 Learn participants.
The Read 2 Learn program also hosts an annual pep rally for all second-graders who participate. Children are bused from their schools to the rally location. They receive a free T-shirt and dog tag on that special day when they cheer their reading accomplishments.
Bowie ISD adopts Read 2 Learn
Read 2 Learn has been so successful that Bowie ISD inquired about the program, participated in local training, and duplicated it in their schools.
The district thanks Marco’s Pizza for generously providing the pizza lunch.