program boosts reading skills
in Sacramento-area schools are seeing impressive increases in their
reading ability, thanks to the tutoring efforts of CSUS students.
At no cost to schools, the CSUS READERS program provides about 80
trained tutors to conduct one-on-one sessions with children having
difficulties with reading. The children receive two 90-minute sessions
two times a week.
Nearly every child in the program has experienced at least a half-year
gain in reading level. In some cases the results are even more dramatic
- one student who was not yet reading at first grade level was above
third grade level after only a semester.
"The reading programs work," says teacher education professor
Noreen Kellough, who runs the program with fellow professor Pamela
While other programs are available for a fee, the READERS program,
which stands for Reaching Excellence After Developing Effective
Reading Skills, is free to the schools. Three school districts -
North Sacramento, Folsom-Cordova and Sacramento City - participate
in the tutoring service with 15-20 tutors at each school.
The early intervention program works with first to third grade-level
students. These students are at a high risk for dropping out later
on, Kellough says, "We don't want to wait until fourth or fifth
grade. By then, they've given up. We want them to become independent
Students are pre- and post-tested in reading ability. "If they
need it, they can stay on for a second semester. But we want to
see progress, so they usually don't stay for more than a year,"
Kellough says. "We're not trying to do the job of specialists.
We want to catch the ones who are falling through the cracks."
The tutoring is part of EDTE 103: Tutoring Children in Reading,
a service-learning course the CSUS students take for credit. Some
also receive a $1,000 education award. Tutors spend four weeks in
on-campus training before going out to schools and they must pass
a competency test. The tutors also attend presentations, prepare
lesson plans for each tutoring session and track their students'
progress. Each tutor is responsible for two children.
Most of the tutors are future teachers, but the course also attracts
students from other disciplines such as criminal justice and psychology.
Kellough says the kids are thrilled to have tutors and they bond
with them. The tutors are often surprised at how attached they become
to the kids. Often they return for another semester.
The program has a good enough reputation that several former students
currently work as paid interns in the classroom. There is also a
waiting list of schools requesting tutors.