Statewide Program Promotes Early Literacy

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WASHOE COUNTY, NV - The summer session for a new program in Washoe County promoting early literacy in students just kicked off. Governor Sandoval approved funding for the statewide program last year, which focuses on making sure english language learner students don't fall behind early on in school. Six schools were chosen based on low test scores and the fact that at least half of the student population is ELL, including Glenn Duncan STEM Academy in Reno. Glenn Duncan Principal, Susan Kehoe, says that many of these students are at a disadvantage when first starting out.

"By them not coming in with any background in reading it puts them behind the 8 ball right off the bat because the expectations are so high now," she says.

A seventh school just got added on for the program's five week summer session. At these campuses throughout Washoe County teachers are focusing on improving reading, writing and math for kids in Kindergarten through 3rd grade.

"Teachers read with students individually, and they can determine from that individual assessment exactly where that student's needs are," says Kehoe.

Area Superintendent Debra Biersdorff says by focusing attention on the younger kids, schools will try to close the gap for ELL students in reading, writing and math proficiency by the time they reach the higher grade levels.

"They want to become better readers, they want to do well in school and they want to graduate on time. So it's been a great benefit and a great success so far in the Washoe County School District," she says.

Washoe County School District received around $6 million for the two year pilot program. There are currently more than 650 students enrolled in the summer academy session.