Between kindergarten and third grade, children learn to read; from fourth grade onward, they read to learn. Yet in 2009 almost 47 percent of Central Arkansas fourth graders were reading below grade level. This means that 47 percent of Central Arkansas fourth graders are at a major disadvantage when it comes to their education. They can’t—or they struggle—to read to learn.
This is a sobering statistic for each child and family it affects. 65% of these students will drop out of high school, end up on welfare, or end up in the prison system. However, it is not just individual children or families who are affected. It is the entire community. Central Arkansas community leaders identified K-12 education as the top issue affecting the economic future of Arkansas.
AR Kids Read is a high-impact community service strategy which leverages the power of caring volunteers who care to help solve this problem. The goal is to help children attain reading level proficiency by the beginning of fourth grade.
Founded in 2012, this volunteer-based literacy intervention is designed to provide struggling readers with trained tutors who donate one hour each week. Tutors provide students with more opportunities to read by using easy-to-implement tutoring methods. Tutors work in small groups or one-on-one, building relationships between student and tutor that create an environment that is ideal for learning. Students who have been fortunate enough to have a once-a-week tutor have demonstrated improved reading levels—academic progress which puts young students on track for a brighter future.
In the 2012-2013 school year, AR Kids Read was able to provide (#) trained tutors who worked with (#) students in (#) elementary schools throughout Central Arkansas. The program received extremely positive feedback from across the board—from teachers and tutors to partners and sponsors. In the 2013-2014 school year, AR Kids Read aims to provide its program to every elementary school in the three major school districts in Central Arkansas. To do this, the organization is hoping to have at least 600 tutors for the upcoming school year.