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Shout out: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands, Readers to Leaders

At Voices for Children, our work focuses on bigger picture policy change for kids, but we know there are people on the ground doing amazing things for kids in our communities every day.  Their stories are the pieces that make up the whole story of children and youth.  The “Shout out” series highlights the groups and individuals and the good work they are doing for Nebraska’s kids.

Reading by the end of third grade matters.  But according to our Kids Count in Nebraska 2012 Report, in 2011, 64% of Nebraska kids didn’t make the cut.  So, my shout out today goes to Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands for the Readers to Leaders program.  This program is a unique program and is a 90-day, results-driven program targeting their club members in the first and second grade who need a reading performance boost.  This program teaches the essential skills needed for comprehension through individualized instruction.

By the end of third grade, children should know how to read.  That’s because at the beginning of fourth grade, they’ll begin reading to learn.  So why does it really matter if kids can’t read by the end of third grade?

  1. They won’t understand up to the half of the printed fourth-grade curriculum.
  2. Three-fourths of kids who are poor readers in grade 3 will be poor readers in high school.
  3. Poor readers tend to have behavior and social problems.
  4. They’re more likely to be held back.
  5. They’re less likely to graduate from high school.

I’m excited about the impact this program is having on young readers.  From June 2012 through February 2013, the Boys & Girls Club Young Readers program had the following impact:

  • 569 members entered the program, 337 or 60% consistently attended the program.
  • For 7-year-olds:
    • 80 members entered the program reading at Kindergarten level
    • Average reading level now is at mid-1st grade level
    • 41 members entered the program reading at mid-1st grade level
    • Average reading level now at upper-2nd grade level
    • 22 members entered the program reading at mid-2nd grade level
    • Average reading level now at upper 3rd grade level.
  • For 8-year-olds:
    • 20 members entered the program reading at Kindergarten level
    • Average reading level now at mid-1st grade level
    • 52 members entered the program reading at 1st grade level
    • Average reading level now at mid-2nd grade level
    • 53 members entered the program reading at mid-2nd grade level
    • Average reading level now at mid-3rd grade level
    • 13 eight-year-olds have completed the program both early reading and reading comprehension and are reading at mid-4th grade level.

7- and 8-year-old club readers gained an average of one school years’ worth of reading skills after only 12 weeks!  Thank you Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands, for doing your part to help young people get on track and reading at grade level!!!

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