Succeeding By Reading

The secret to closing the academic achievement gap? Helping a struggling student read to learn

60% of Oakland 3rd graders read below grade level. A student who cannot “read to learn” will probably not graduate from high school.

Faith Network developed the Succeeding by Reading program to address the literary crisis in our under-performing public schools, and close the academic achievement gap one student at a time. Research demonstrates that children become readers when they have been supported in their own efforts to learn to read, saturated with age-appropriate books, and encouraged by positive role models.

I can help a student reach their potential

3 ways you can help a student reach grade-level reading… we’ll help you do it.

1.  Excel Reading Clinics offer one-on-one weekly tutoring to 2nd and 3rd graders who have fallen behind in their reading skills. Tutoring sessions are held during school hours to students referred to us by school staff. The referred students are assessed to determine their reading skill level. In consultation with the teacher, we develop a customized program that includes practice with phonics, sight words and leveled reading fluency. The tutors use a variety of teaching tools and games to accommodate different learning styles and reinforce skills. At the end of the school year, we re-assess the students to determine their progress.

Volunteer tutors receive initial training as well as periodic refresher training opportunities during the year. In addition, experienced tutor coordinators at each clinic provide ongoing in-service support for tutors working with individual students.

2. Library Support focuses on supporting school libraries so that students have the resources they need to become avid readers and enthusiastic learners. Because many school libraries are understaffed and underfunded, many have outdated or insufficient books and are open very few hours during the week. Our library volunteers have helped re-open libraries, organize collections, read books aloud to classes, and staff libraries so students can check out books. There are many ways our volunteers can help fill the gap so that school libraries are utilized and students can get excited about reading.

3. Literacy Take-Home Bags are designed to strengthen the partnership between school and home, while developing a broader and deeper support network for emerging readers. Studies on literacy show that a rich home literacy environment leads to oral language development, vocabulary acquisition, early reading skills, and reading comprehension. A 2009 California state-administered questionnaire showed that students who had access to books at home or who read for fun scored higher than their peers. Children who begin elementary school with limited exposure to books face a learning gap that widens as they move to higher grades.

“By providing a highly effective reading clinic where at-risk students receive one-on-one tutoring, this program helps students move toward benchmark goals. I just want to thank the tutors who have served my first-graders this year. They are so dedicated, and warm-hearted…as in previous years, they have helped my students thrive! Thank you!”

– Gesine Cotteral, Teacher at Emerson Elementary