Coldwater Schools of Hope Reading Program
What is Schools of Hope?
The program is a one on one tutoring of second grade students who are
not reading at grade level. It matches a volunteer tutor with a student
with the goal that the student is brought to grade level reading by the
end of the school year.
Why is Schools of Hope necessary?
The tutoring program was developed in response to legislation enacted
by the state legislature requiring that third grade students be reading
at grade level before advancing to fourth grade. Data compiled by the
State of Michigan states that over the last three years, 60% of Branch
County third grade students have not been reading at grade level.
The Coldwater Community Schools does not have the resources to address
this need, and the State did not provide any resources with this mandate.
Is reading that important?
Reading is an important skillset that is a key building block for future
development and learning. Children in early elementary simultaneously
learn to read and read to learn. Phonics and sight words are critical.
In grades 4-8, expectations dramatically change. Students are asked to
apply sight words and decoding skills to more challenging content areas.
If they have not mastered the skillset early, they may not catch up.
Essentially students “learn to read” through third grade,
and then “read to learn” thereafter.
Think of experiences in everyday life and how it is impacted by not being
able to read. Whether it is grocery shopping, reading prescriptions,
or applying for a job, the impact of low literacy levels carries lifelong
consequences. About 16% of children who are not reading proficiently
by the end of 3rd grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate
4 times greater than that for proficient readers.
Why start with second grade?
By starting in second grade, we have allowed for time to improve the
reading levels of the “at risk” children. When we address
the students at this age, we identify those in need of assistance early.
A program of one on one tutoring may be all a student needs to achieve
grade level reading. There is less pressure by starting early and taking
the time necessary to be successful.
Who are the community partners?
The Coldwater Schools of Hope Reading Program is a partnership with the
Branch County United Way, The Great Start Collaborative, Kiwanis Club
of Coldwater and Coldwater Community Schools. Each of the organizations
bring certain expertise as well as a commitment to the children of Coldwater
and Branch County.
Branch County United Way and The Great Start Collaborative brings the
program, structure & supplies. They assist in recruiting volunteers
and garnering community support and recognition. They offer grant writing
assistance for additional funding. The Kiwanis Club of Coldwater coordinates
the program. It spearheads volunteer recruitment, training and support.
The club interacts with
the school staff in supervision of the tutors and provides logistics
and fundraising for the summer reading program. Coldwater Community Schools
administers academic testing to determine which students need tutoring.
They assist in training, support, and supervision
of tutors and handle the facility management. They track the data on
the student’s progress, and perform periodic assessments and measure
year end results.
How does it work?
This is an in-school reading program which pairs volunteer reading tutors
with second grade students who are moderately behind in reading at
their grade level. These volunteer reading tutors work one on one with
the same student once a week for 30 minutes during the school day. The
tutors are provided training in techniques and receive a tutoring manual
and other teaching aids. They are coached on characteristics of
a good tutor and given instruction on how to record the activities of
the day. Once a background check is completed, a student is assigned
and then a convenient day and time is set. Next, the tutor begins the
with his or her student.
Does the program work?
As a volunteer, you obviously want to give of your time, but you also
want it to be time well spent. We measured the data from the program
and it addressed that point. In the first year January - June, 2017,
41 tutors were paired with students; of that total, 78% were able to
achieve grade level or one step below grade level. Of the students
that were not at grade level, most did not receive a tutor until March
or April instead of January when the program began. It was a great
success! The final component is a Summer Reading Program which we implemented
in 2017. It reinforced and maintained the accomplishments of the tutors
and teachers with the students’ progress. Students received books
to read, and when tested the following fall, 80% of the children returned
to school at or just below grade level. Normally, we would find that
children would be 2 levels back. So, they retained what was achieved.
Success!!! The next goal is to fund the donation of books for the future.
Community financial support for the book distribution program is essential.
Why does Kiwanis participate in Schools of Hope?
Raising Literacy Levels” is the Signature Project of the Kiwanis
Club of Coldwater. There are few things more important to the future
success of a child than their ability to read proficiently. Children
in early elementary simultaneously learn to read and read to learn. The
lack of proficiency will impact the ability of students to graduate high
school on time.