Letter to the editor: Reading Corps is a wise state investment
When our principal heard about Minnesota Reading Corps, I was tasked with vetting the organization to see if it would be a good fit for our building. As with all things, I approached Reading Corps’ claims with a degree of skepticism, but through research and talking with leaders at current Reading Corps schools in St. Paul, my skepticism turned to excitement.
What I found is an organization that is data-driven, student-focused, and one that truly sets its members up to be successful in their work with students. Needless to say, we brought Reading Corps into our school. It has proven to be an excellent opportunity for our students.
ReadingCorps fills a crucial role at St. Anthony Park. Like other schools around the nation, we face a tight budget, and there is not always funding to meet all needs. We have a high number of students who struggle with reading and need the benefit of one-on-one guided practice for them to catch up to their peers. By having Reading Corps at our school, we have been able to meet the needs of our struggling readers and put them on the path to success.
Over the course of just one short school year, we’ve gone from asking if we should pursue Reading Corps to wondering what we would do without it.
The need for additional resources such as Reading Corps is very real and immediate. Statewide, one in three Minnesota kids is not on track to be proficient in reading at third grade, a critical educational benchmark. It’s clear that more Minnesota kids need the tools to become successful readers. Reading Corps gives kids the tools they need.
As the tutoring coordinator at St. Anthony Park Elementary School, I can tell you that when kids reach reading proficiency standards by the end of third grade, they are much more likely to succeed later in school. In fact, they are four times more likely to graduate from high school. And high school graduation is a key indicator of increased earning potential, better health and a higher quality of life.
Unfortunately, many children in our community are less likely to achieve academic success and graduate from high school than other Minnesota children due to socio-economic and language barriers. The disparity in educational achievement for low-income children and children of color is a serious challenge that has implications for all Minnesotans.
Lots of people—business leaders, politicians, educators and parents, to name a few—are talking about this growing challenge. Now it’s time to respond to this challenge in a way that works. Minnesota Reading Corps has a proven 12-year track record of helping teachers bring PreK-grade 3 students up to grade level in reading and putting them on a path toward academic success. Reading Corps works regardless of where a child lives or socio-economic background. In fact, kids with higher risk factors make stronger gains.
The Reading Corps tutors who serve at St. Anthony Park Elementary work hand-in-hand with the classroom teachers to help kids reach reading proficiency goals. While teachers deliver the core curriculum, the Reading Corps tutors target one-on-one daily practice to students who need an extra boost in reading skills.
Increasing state funding for Reading Corps is a wise investment in our state’s future. No skill is more essential to future success—in school, in work, in life—than reading. It’s clear we need all children to have the opportunity to develop the reading skills that are a foundation for their future academic and economic achievement.
Becky Kallhoff, tutoring coordinator
St. Anthony Park Elementary School