Before joining the Reading Seed program at Los Ninos Elementary School, Marissa Gallego wasn't a confident reader. Now, she loves to read.
"It helps me read and get a better education," Gallego says with a smile.
Reading Seed recruits and trains volunteer reading coaches to work one-on-one with students in kindergarten through third grade who are reading below grade level.
Don Modaro is one of those coaches.
"I have seven grandchildren, but none of them live in Tucson," Modaro says. "So, these are my surrogate grandchildren, if you will."
Modaro and other coaches say finding something in which the students are interested is the number one key to getting them focused and hooked on reading.
Following each session -- some are 30 minutes, others 45, depending on the school -- kids get to pick a book to take home and read with their parents.
Working one-on-one with coaches increases confidence, vocabulary, fluency and reading comprehension in students.
A 2016-17 evaluation of the program found amazing results.
- For 97% of Reading Seed students, teachers reported an improvement in reading skills. Even more exciting is that 46% of students improved a “significant” amount and 11% improved an “extraordinary” amount.
- For 97% of Reading Seed students, teachers reported an improved attitude towards reading. An astounding 48% of students improved a “significant” amount and 16% improved an “extraordinary” amount.
- For 95% of Reading Seed students, teachers reported an increase in engagement in classroom/learning activities. Of those, 39% demonstrated a “significant” increase and 15% demonstrated an “extraordinary” increase.
- For 97% of Reading Seed students, teachers reported an increase in student interest in books. 48% of those students displayed a “significant” increase in their interest in books and 16% an “extraordinary” increase.
- English Language Learners performed slightly higher than the aggregate. Teachers reported that 99% of those students showed an improvement in reading skills with 50% improving significantly and 15% showing extraordinary improvement. Additionally, 100% of English Language Learners showed an improved attitude toward reading and an increased interest in books. English Language Learners also had a slightly higher increase in engagement in classroom/learning activities with 97% showing improvement.
- Girls performed slightly higher than boys across all categories. This performance gap has remained steady over the past four years.
All Reading Seed Coaches are trained, fingerprinted, and have a background check completed prior to being placed at a school.
Students who participate in Reeding Seed speak English and do not have a learning disability, but are selected by teachers based on their reading comprehension.
Current schools participating include:
Amphi: Donaldson, Keeling (Kinder Intensive), Nash (Traditional and Kinder Intensive), Prince, Walker
Flowing Wells Laguna, Walter Douglas
Sunnyside (SUSD): Los Niños (Intensive), Mission Manor, Summit View
Tucson Unified (TUSD): Banks, Blenman, Bloom, Bonillas, Davidson, Dietz, Drachman, Erickson, Ford, Grijalva, Holladay, Hollinger, Howell, Kellond, Maldonado, Marshall, Manzo, McCorkle, Myers-Ganoung, Ochoa, Oyama, Pueblo Gardens, Robison, Safford K-8, Sewell, Van Buskirk, Vesey
For more information, visit literacyconnects.org.