Noah is a second grader who has always struggled to read – with his mom working two jobs to support their family, he doesn’t get to practice at home very much. Noah’s teachers do their best to help him but they have limited class time. Luckily, Diane is a Colorado Tutoring Corps tutor at Noah’s school.
More than two-thirds of fourth grade students in the United States –as many as six million children –do not read proficiently. In Weld County, just 40% of fourth grade students meet or exceed grade-level expectations for English Language Arts – that’s almost two-thirds of students who cannot read or write at grade-level. The problem is most acute for children living in poverty, children of color, English Language Learners, and children with disabilities. The implications are profound: third grade marks the pivotal point when children transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Children who cannot read by then struggle more with the increasingly complex information introduced in later grades.
Those who read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to graduate from high school than those who do not. A growing body of research validates what works in teaching children to read: well-trained tutors delivering early, targeted, evidence-based interventions to students in need.
United Way of Weld County has teamed up with AmeriCorps, Colorado Youth for A Change, and Greeley-Evans School District 6 to offer Colorado Reading Corps, an evidence-based nationally implemented program that helps students build literacy skills and increase reading proficiency.
Full-time tutors provide daily 1-on-1 sessions with kindergarten through third grade students. Tutoring sessions occur outside of the student’s teacher-led reading instruction time during the school day. Tutors provide targeted reading skill practice in ten intervention areas such as word sound awareness, phonics, and fluency. Students who receive Colorado Tutoring Corps services include those scoring “below target” on benchmark assessments administered by the tutors, and students receiving Title 1, special education, or English Language services.
Tutors are AmeriCorps members with an interest in improving their community; they are trained to provide reading instruction and receive a living allowance and earn hours of service toward an education award to pay for college tuition or to pay back college loans. Each tutor position requires a $12,000 annual sponsorship, paid for by United Way or another local organization. This fee covers program management and money due to the national AmeriCorps program.
“Extra one-on-one support is what some of our students need to help them master foundational literacy skills. More importantly, this relationship is a huge confidence builder for so many of our students.”Weld County Tutoring Corps Instructional Coach