Last year, the Middlesex County Branch of the NAACP and the President Rosa Browne identified an epidemic within the town's public school literacy scores.
More than half of the Hispanic and African American fourth-graders were reading below the goal level, and the scores only worsened as children got older. With cooperation from Superintendent Dr. Patricia Charles, a group of low performing children in grades Kindergarten through third were taken from MacDonough and Bielefield Middletown Public Schools and were provided an effective pilot program to help eradicate this problem.
Here's how the program worked.
Children were bused to Brain Wiz Reading Center, operated by Yusuf Salaam, a nationally recognized publicist to some of the top educators in the country, in order to increase their reading abilities at the most vulnerable time in their lives. The program is powered by TestOurKids.com, a computerized system that evaluates children’s reading skills, and it is utilized throughout the country, primarily for reading centers and schools that require the extra help.
The children 5- to 8-years-old were tested prior to the start of the program and then retested on their last day and the results were overwhelming. All children who completed the course improved sufficiently, and some scored 2 to 3 grade levels higher in their overall reading. These gains were achieved in spite of extreme winter conditions and multiple holiday vacations from December to May. The program ran for an hour-and-a-half each day, Tuesday through Thursday.
Funding for the computer equipment for this program was provided by the MC-NAACP. Browne says, “With results like these, this program needs to continue and expand. We know that with the support of the business and education community, it can flourish.” Our children urgently need solutions because the National Education Association states that if a child can’t read by the end of third grade, the chances of that child becoming successful in academia or anything else is highly unlikely. Ask yourself- where does that leave our children who are languishing, and, what future will our children have if this continues?