How it Began
The America Reads Challenge is a grassroots national campaign that challenges every American to help all our children learn to read, including English Language Learners and students with disabilities. America Reads sparks collaborations between entire communities - schools and libraries, businesses and community groups, religious institutions, universities, college students and senior citizens - to work together with teachers and parents to teach our children to read.
The America Reads Office in the Department of Human Development and Learning at ETSU recruits, hires and trains college students to provide one-on-one and small group reading instruction to children in the region who read below a third grade level.
Our program provides local children and youth personalized tutoring needed in order to excel in reading thus boosting their confidence, motivation and overall academic achievement. Educators receive needed assistance in their efforts to ensure student success as tutors complement and reinforce classroom instruction. We also conduct Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2 visits to stress the importance of reading. A literacy event is held each year with a school or community program to showcase literacy skills , encourage children to read, provide books to the children and to promote literacy awareness to parents and community.
Why the Need for America Reads Challenge?
Research shows us that more than nine out of ten children can learn to read, yet national assessments show that a significant number of children are not reaching their reading potential.
68% of fourth grade public school students in the United States scored below proficient reading level in 2009.
Tennessee results show that 72% scored below proficient reading level.
Reading proficiently by the end of third grade (as measured by NAEP at the beginning of fourth grade) can be a make-or-break benchmark in a child's educational development.
Three quarters of students who are poor readers in third grade will remain poor readers in high school, according to researchers at Yale University.
Students with relatively low literacy achievement tend to have more behavioral and social problems in subsequent grades and higher rates of retention in grade.
The National Research Council asserts that "academic success, as defined by high school graduation, can be predicted with reasonable accuracy by knowing someone's reading skill at the end of third grade. A person who is not at least a modestly skilled reader by that time is unlikely to graduate from high school.
Low achievement in reading has important long-term consequences in terms of individual earning potential, global competitiveness, and general productivity.
The world economy demands a more educated workforce, and grade-level reading proficiency is the key.
All information obtained from the The Annie E. Casey Foundation report EARLY WARNING! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters (2010).
How it Helps
Research demonstrates that tutoring increases a child's reading achievement, confidence and motivation, in addition to a sense of control over his or her reading ability. (Cohen, P.A., Kulik, J.A., Kulik, C.L.C., 1982; Lepper, M.R. and Chabay, R.W., 1998; Topping, K., and Whitely, M., 1990; Merrill, D.C., 1995).