More CMS students need help with reading

Students succeeding with reading program

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Reading scores for some Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) show there is still need for improvement.

Scores indicate about 46% of Charlotte’s third graders are reading on grade level and that number decreases for students living in poverty. Those scores show only 29% of that population are making the grade.

Parents are concerned about this and are doing what they can to prevent their children from falling behind. J. Bell is the father of 4th grader Josiah Bell. The father says when Josiah was in kindergarten, he detected his son was having challenges in reading. “I think it was more phonics,” Josiah’s father J. Bell said. “Than it was actually missing words.”

The father says his family was intentional about getting Josiah the help he needed to succeed. He says he found a school that would offer his son an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and he discovered an after-school program that got his son to improve in reading.

“We have the help of the community,” the father said. “We have the help of the church. We have the help of the school and we even have the help of the doctor’s office, so I feel it is the collaboration of all those things coming together.”

Urban Promise is the after school program that keeps the learning going after Josiah leaves his school - Ashley Park Pre-K - 8. Urban Promise has helped the students by using a computer program called iReady. It gives specific reading to students who need the skills.

“Instead of focusing on what a third grade class should be focusing on,” Urban Promise Director Dionte Grey said. “It focuses on what specifically Josiah needs to improve on, so it pumps out lessons according to his needs.”

Since Josiah has been at Urban Promise, administrators say he has grown about three years in reading. The fourth grader appreciates reading and knows not being able to can hurt him. "Like if you wanted to get a job, Green said. “It would be hard for you to get in the job because you didn’t know how to read.”

The after-school program also uses a program called HELPS that offers students one-on-one tutoring several times a week. Despite the fact the program is making a difference, the director knows more kids need the extra assistance. He is bothered by the unimpressive reading numbers.

“We can’t overlook those type of disparities,” Grey said. “And we can’t like just turn a blind eye to underachievement.” There have been programs created that will confront the reading scores. The question is will there be enough programs to help every child succeed. Josiah says help is needed sooner rather than later.

“I have a lot of friends who struggle in reading.” Josiah said. Urban Promise serves around 280 students at its three sites. The services are free. The after-school program reports during its last summer camp each elementary school student grew by nearly four months in reading. The director knows not enough resources right now to reach every child. Until that happens he will continue to do his part.

“One of my jobs is to speak to them,” Grey said. “Like hey, I believe in you, so that they can have that encouragement.” Read Charlotte is on a mission to find more tutors to help students. If you are interested in becoming a tutor - click here.

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