|WGB After School classes|
Seven elementary students soared from more than a year behind to reading on grade level after participating in a Charlotte Post Foundation remedial program.
The after-school program operates at Walter G. Byers Elementary in Charlotte’s Greenville neighborhood. The Post Foundation pays selected teachers at Byers to stay after school three days a week to teach reading in small groups with students who are a year and a half of more behind grade level.
The seven proficient readers represent an exciting landmark, said Gerald Johnson, president of The Charlotte Post Foundation and publisher of The Charlotte Post newspaper. Previous program results have shown growth in reading skills, he said, but this is the first time students reached grade-level performance.
“The program works because the kids are familiar with the teachers and the teachers know them,” Johnson said. “The parents trust these teachers.”
Two of the seven who achieved grade-level marks on NC Department of Public Instruction tests are Carlee and Holden Sutton, fraternal twins whose mother Lea Ann Sutton teaches literacy at Byers.
“For me, the program just helps solidify with the kids what we do in class,” said Sutton, who does not teach in The Post Foundation program. Her twins struggled in reading, she said, and though they showed progress, they needed the extra push the after-school program provided.
Of 22 students in The Post Foundation program for school year 2017-18, 19 showed improvement in reading skills. The seven who attained proficiency participated for two years. High absenteeism was common among the three who didn’t improve.
The results are for end-of-grade tests given in early June 2018. The state released them recently.
The scores prove third and fourth graders who were far behind are capable of learning, said Byers Principal Anthony Calloway.
“We have several kids who are showing college and career readiness,” Calloway said. “That is the ultimate goal of any educational institution. You want to make sure your kids are prepared for life after high school.”
Typically there is one teacher for every five students in the after-school program. They remain after regular class for an hour or more three days a week. The Post Foundation provides bus rides home.
The next Charlotte Post Foundation after-school program began its third year at Byers January 29 with about 30 students. They will receive special instruction on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.
“The growth in learning for our kids is a slow process,” said The Post’s Johnson. “You can’t bring students to proficiency easily because it’s a growth process that takes separate steps to get them there.”
Many face difficult circumstances outside class, Calloway said. Up to 25 percent are homeless periodically. Their parents don’t have time to read to them.
“When you have parents working two or three jobs, those are the environments that our scholars are growing up in,” Calloway said. “The family doesn’t have time for academic support.”
But the latest scores show that students in these situations can learn, he added.
“It’s very promising,” Calloway said, “and we look forward to getting more kids to proficiency.”