A new literacy initiative is aimed at students in the Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD).
The 100×25 program’s goal is to have 100 percent of third graders reading at or above grade level by the year 2025.
A study done at the American Educational Research Association has found that third grade literacy rates are a predictor for graduation rates. There are currently 30 percent of third graders reading at or above grade level in FWISD, said Arcelia Leon, the executive director of literacy.
“It was a pretty clear indicator we needed to do something,” Leon said.
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The program is designed to impact all FWISD schools, but mainly focuses on elementary schools. 100×25 also relies on partnerships throughout the community through teacher trainings, volunteers and resource alignment.
Leon said the biggest component to her is the teacher trainings.
“I think the silver bullet is going to be a great teacher, a well-trained teacher in every classroom,” Leon said.
Pat Templer, a volunteer reader for Kids Hope USA, said she enjoys volunteering with kids in the Fort Worth area.
Templer has been volunteering for two years. Last year she was at Rivertree Academy. This year she is at both Rivertree Academy and South Hi Mount Elementary School.
“I love to sit side-by-side with the students and hear them read a story and be excited about it,” Templer said.
Volunteers for the 100×25 program have a choice of what type of session they wish to complete with students.
Level one training focuses on relational strategies, such as reading aloud to children. Level two training focuses more on structured strategies, such as learning phrases instead of words in isolation.
Templer said she thinks others will benefit from their time reading to children.
“It’s such an enjoyable time to just forget the cares of the day and come in and read with a student,” Templer said. “But more importantly, I think it’s important for us as individuals to try and build up the community and make better citizens.”
“With volunteerism, it’s really as effective as the training, the opportunity and the commitment of the volunteer,” she said.
The last component of the 100×25 literacy initiative comes from partnerships across the community.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, local churches and other reading volunteer programs have partnered up with FWISD to align resources.
“It takes all your arrows pointing in the right direction,” Leon said. “It takes this collective mindset – everyone being on the same page – to have an impact on student learning and teacher progress.”
The 100×25 initiative has trained ten volunteers currently and is open to forming more relationships with businesses and community members across Fort Worth.