September 2016 News

Indiana Academy Students Helping At-Risk Readers in Award-Winning Campaign

Monday, September 12, 2016

Academy students helping kids with reading

The single greatest indicator of a child’s success in school and in life is his/her ability to read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade. Up to 3rd grade, students are learning to read. After that they are reading to learn. In other words, if they are behind in reading, they are behind in every subject because they can’t read the books and materials. Furthermore, 80% of children living in low-income households are not reading a grade level.

In Delaware County, 47% of households are in poverty or low income. Many of the students in Muncie schools are struggling with the life-changing skill of reading. Thanks to Ball State University and its high-ability high school the Indiana Academy of Sciences, Mathematics and Humanities, more local elementary students are finding success with reading.

Student volunteers from the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities worked with 3rd graders at South View Elementary in March and April to improve their reading abilities. In those two short months, the participating elementary students advanced their reading levels on average by 9 months!

This “reading club” is one of 4 operated by the United Way of Delaware County as part of the Campaign for Grade Level reading, and is the first to utilize student volunteers. “The Indiana Academy students did a fantastic job,” said Jenni Marsh, President and CEO of United Way of Delaware County. “We are planning to expand the program with them to include more students and to run all school year.”

Academy student helping kids with reading

South View principal Kara Miller described the program as an, “incredible addition to helping our students want to read and enjoy reading. The students who attended this club were excited about staying after school, forming bonds with their reading buddies, and learning things from the books they read.”

Indiana Academy student Kiana King, added, “We have wonderful memories of working alongside the children. I am so incredibly proud of our success as a group.”

The outstanding reading progress the South View children made with the Indiana Academy students was reflective of the overall success of the comprehensive set of programs United Way of Delaware County is leading locally. As a result, Delaware County received national recognition as a Pacesetter by being 1 of 15 communities, from over 200 participating, which showed significant improvement in student reading levels.

According to Marsh, this reading program is about more than just helping at-risk kids today. It has the potential to actually reduce the cycle of generational poverty.