Impacting grade-level reading: Iowa Reading Corps

Staff Writer
Story City Herald
Impacting grade-level reading: Iowa Reading Corps

—by Sara Wilson, UWSC Marketing Director

Earlier this month, we highlighted how important Grade-Level Reading is to the future of our students as well as our community. In subsequent weeks, this column is focusing on what United Way of Story County (UWSC) is doing to increase proficiency in reading at grade level.

During the previous few weeks we described how important attendance, school readiness and out-of-school learning are to a child’s academic success. We told you UWSC convenes community partners to work on these areas through the Grade-Level Reading campaign.

The final component in this area is the Iowa Reading Corps, an exciting outcome of the Ames Reads collaboration. The Iowa Reading Corps, a replication of the successful Minnesota Reading Corps, is a tutoring program to help increase the number of students who are reading at grade level. The program, managed by United Ways of Iowa, utilizes daily, one-on-one reading practice and is implemented in six Story County elementary schools this year – Ames (Sawyer), Ballard East, Ballard West, Collins-Maxwell, Colo-Nesco and Nevada. Last school year, the first year of the program, three of the above Story County schools were involved. Because of the program’s success, Ballard East, Nevada and Sawyer renewed and more schools were able to be added. The program has grown from ten AmeriCorps members serving eight school districts statewide to 25 members serving 20 schools.

The program places AmeriCorps members, trained as Elementary Literacy Tutors, in schools to implement literacy interventions for students who are just below proficiency in reading. Each day, members meet individually with students for a 20-minute tutoring session to build skills in phonics, phonemic awareness and fluency. As part of UWSC’s education impact area, $69,000 is dedicated to the program to fund living stipends for the AmeriCorps members.

The Iowa Reading Corps is important to the future success of many children. Research shows that 95 percent of kids have the ability to read at grade level if proper interventions are utilized. The Iowa Reading Corps is one way to fill that gap, and many passionate supporters of UWSC make the difference.

In addition to education, UWSC also focuses on income and health – the three building blocks for a good quality of life. The next column will highlight an issue in the area of income and following columns will focus on solutions to help alleviate the issue. We know we can’t do it alone, so we recruit people and organizations who bring passion, expertise and resources to make positive change. We invite you to be a part of the change. You can give, you can advocate and you can volunteer. That’s what it means to LIVE UNITED.