The ability to read is essential to success in modern life. Yet, children with reading difficulties often are 'left behind' in school without adequate remedial assessments and interventions to help them read at grade level. In round-robin reading assignments poor readers are stigmatized as stupid, a challenge to self-esteem that stays with them throughout their life. The US Department of Justice states that "The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure." Over 70% of inmates in America's prisons cannot read above a fourth-grade level. 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate and two thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare. This project will use Kindle readers and appropriate books to help ensure that all selected children read at grade level.
The anonymity of Kindle reading allows students to read at a comfortable level aided by the Kindle text-to-speech capability, word highlighting, dictionary definitions, etc.. Students will also appreciate the compact size and low weight of the Kindle. We expect to expand the program to schools throughout Larimer County in subsequent years as funding permits. In future years we expect to expand the program progressively as a no cost aid to teachers.
The project will be managed by RAW President-Elect Nomineee Ursula Harrison who has more than 40 years' experience in education (including in language arts) in three countries. In 2011 she successfully introduced the use of Kindle readers to remediate reading abilities in an alternative high school in Wyoming. Initial tracking of effectiveness over a two-year period showed that appropriately managed the Kindle reading program increased reading levels by at least two grade levels within one semester. She will adapt the program used at high school level to elementary children and coordinate selection, testing and evaluation of kids with the professionals at Children's Speech & Reading Center in Fort Collins ("CSRC" whose Executive Director, Dave Boon, also is a member of the club). Based on initial assessments of reading levels Ursula Harrison will select reading materials and books (available free from several sources on the Internet) and load them onto each kid's Kindle.
The project consists of these steps:
• Up to 50 children will be selected from a range of educational institutions including private schools, charter schools, and social organizations for underserved populations (e.g. La Familia). If kids already have an appropriate digital device, we shall help them load appropriate books.
• Parents and children will be advised in the use of the selected reading materials.
• Each Kindle will be loaded with a selection of books to guide the child to their appropriate reading level and set 'parental controls' to permit observation of their progress.
• Children will be tested by CSRC to assess their reading ability before entering the program.
• Because of limitations in CSRC reading therapy assistance, reading therapy may not be provided to all children in the program.
• The child's reading ability will be tested again after several months and the result evaluated for evidence that the Kindle reading program significantly advances reading ability.
Budget: Purchase of 30 Kindle for Kids $3,150