Current data has indicated the importance of reading at grade level by the end of third grade in order to have success with future education and life in general. Last spring voters in Kent County passed a millage which currently provides funds to public school districts with the a large portion of the money earmarked for providing students and teachers with the tools needed to have students reading at grade level or higher by the end of third grade here in Lowell.
Michigan Education Corps, which is also providing services in Lowell Area Schools’ elementary buildings with a focus on helping students reading just below grade level receive the tools and encouragement needed to bump up to grade level standards. Lowell Area Schools does pay a fee to be part of this program, but the majority of funding throughout the state comes from the State of Michigan and donations from individuals and community foundations or organizations.
Providing Individual Help
Michigan Education Corps tutors provide 1-1 interaction and help students in kindergarten through 3rd grade. Additionally, tutors work with preschool classes, alongside teachers, to help students in need. “The students who have been involved in the Michigan Education Corps tutoring program have shown great growth in their reading scores. The tutoring program provides one on one support that uses a research based plan for supporting reading.” says Nate Fowler, Director of Curriculum for Lowell Area Schools.
Tutors in the K-3 program work individually with a 12-18 student caseload for approximately 20 minutes each day, giving them the tools they need to become proficient readers. Sometimes those reading just below grade level need a boost of confidence. Some may need some extra skills, tricks, and tools. Others may benefit from individual time practicing reading skills. Whatever the need or combination of needs a student faces, tutors are there to help and encourage.
Meeting daily with students provides consistency, allows for a working relationship between the student and tutor to be established quickly, and encourages daily practice of skills learned during sessions. A student typically works with a tutor for approximately 12-14 weeks. Assessments throughout this time help track progress and will indicate when a student is able to graduate from the program.
Training and Support Provided
Prior to being assigned a group of students, tutors are trained in how to work with individuals and given tools to use to help a student’s reading performance. Training for the next group of tutors begins on February 6 in Livonia, which is on the east side of the state. Hotel and food is included as part of the training received during the week.
Internal Coaches are available once placed in a school to help tutors to help with questions and assessment. Coaches determine when a student exits the program. Michigan Education Corps is currently looking for two tutors to service kindergarten and first grade students at Bushnell Elementary School. The service commitment begins February 6, with four days of training, and ends May 26, with a 30 hour commitment each week, Monday through Friday, working with students.
A bi-weekly stipend payment of $441.88 will be received for services. And those who complete the entire service agreement are eligible for a $1,500 education award. This award can be used toward federally backed student loans or future educational classes. Those 55+ by February 6 have the option of gifting this award to a child or grandchild.
AmeriCorps will also be looking for members to serve as tutors as part of the Michigan Education Corps in April for the 2018/19 school year. Full and part-time positions could be available in elementary buildings within Lowell Area Schools tutoring preschool or K-3 students.
Those interested in learning more about the program or to apply for an open position should visit the Michigan Education Corps website.