Jeni is a typical elementary school student in Brigham City. She likes to read and play soccer, and she has three dogs and a fish at home. However, when she entered school, she was at a disadvantage. Her family speaks only Spanish at home, and though learning to speak English was not a problem, learning to read at the same level as her peers was a struggle.
Luckily, Jeni’s school is part of the Read. Graduate. Succeed. tutoring program (RGS), which pairs community volunteers with struggling readers in local schools. Jeni met with her tutor for 30 minutes, twice weekly, throughout the school year. “We read, we took tests, and we played reading games,” she explained. Reading books out loud improved her proficiency, and the tutor also worked with her on comprehension. By the end of the school year, Jeni had raised her scores by nine reading levels, about twice the average improvement.
Principal Bryce Day explains that a key factor in student success in the RGS program is “the one-to-one connection with the tutors that come in. It really helps the confidence that these students have.” Not only do tutors help students work on reading, but they also talk about homework and outside factors that may be affecting a student’s performance. “Providing that additional support system is what really makes this program successful,” said Mr. Day.
Last year, Jeni’s school had 22 students in the RGS program coming in for twice-weekly tutoring. The number of students they can help is only limited by the number of volunteers who participate in the program. Jeni’s tutor was there every week last year, never missing a session. According to Mr. Day, “when we have tutors like that, that’s when we see huge growth.”
Reading proficiency is a critical foundation for future academic work and lifelong success. United Way funding supports the Read. Graduate. Succeed. program to make sure all students have the tools they need to thrive in school and throughout life.