United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra (UWNNS) has partnered with Washoe County School District (WCSD), University of Nevada, Reno, and Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) to create an Education Intervention Team to work on the Helping Hands Reading Initiative project.
UWNNS saw an opportunity to bring together community resources to help address the problem of low reading proficiency levels, which is a natural alignment with the nonprofits’ mission to “link the community’s will and resources to improve lives.” This opportunity also aligns with the UWNNS’ goal of increasing high school graduation rates.
Research has found that third grade reading scores are a predictor of graduation rates and has also been a predictor of future incarceration rates. Studies also show that 74 percent of children that do not learn to read by the third grade will not catch up to graduate on time.
In 2011, only 32 percent of Nevada’s 3rd graders met the proficiency reading level on the Criterion Reference Test (CRT) exam, which is a standard measure used by WCSD. Nevada ranks near the bottom of state-by-state comparisons of literacy and has a very low graduation rate. In order to produce a strong and literate workforce and expand our economy in Nevada, children must be well educated. The path to graduation starts at birth and continues throughout a child’s academic career.
The goal of this project is to increase by 5 percent annually the reading scores of struggling students (Pre-K to 6th grade) who are identified as not meeting reading grade level proficiency. This is accomplished by providing intervention in schools known to have high economic needs and limited access to resources. This project will be accomplished by involving higher education students who are in the teacher certification program, as well as community volunteers and parent mentors/tutors, in the intervention program.