CLEVELAND — 3News is your Education Station as we continue to spotlight students at Charles Dickens Elementary - a school with heartbreaking reading scores for its third graders. We will follow one particular Dickens class all school year, as they strive to pass the state reading guarantee, and make it to the 4th grade.
3News' partnership with Charles Dickens Elementary School began after finding out in 2019 that none of its third-graders were reading at grade level.
"Do I think it’s difficult? Yes. Do I think it's impossible? No. The state reading guarantee does exactly what it's supposed to do," says Principal Jocelyn Foster.
Foster says the test does more than just assess the children; it informs the teachers.
"As instructional people, as educators, it helps us to know what kids need to know. We can better direct our focuses on strengthening them where they need extra help," says Foster.
Enter third grade educator Brittany Jasinski – Miss Jasinski to her students – a teacher for over a decade, with three years at Dickens. She knows all too well about reading challenges.
"I specifically struggled as a reader growing up, and that is one of my motivations to help them. I found that a lot of students do not like to read," says Jasinski.
Writing is also a struggle for the students, with momentum for many slowing down because of the pandemic.
"[Gestures toward student's paper] This gives you a look at what it was like to not write for almost a year, because they were virtual," says Jasinski.
Laptop keyboards are not the same as pencil and paper, and good writers make for good readers, says Jasinski. With the 2021 state reading assessment coming up in less than three weeks, she admits, getting students to pass will be a tall order.
"They do not like to read out loud, or even pretend to read in their heads. They just don’t enjoy it. So, my goal is just to make it fun," says Jasinski.
Incorporating music, games, and prizes - like creepy Halloween reading fingers - into her curriculum, and making sure to give each student 1 on 1 attention, are just a few of Miss Jasinski's keys to success.
"I’m not worried about my lunchtime. I’m not worried about my extra time. I’m just worried about making that difference in THEIR time," says Jasinski.
Soon the community will get a chance to make a difference for students at Dickens. 3News is bringing back “Dickens Reads” – an afternoon program we began last year at the school before the pandemic shut it down. Twice a week, community volunteers will read donated books to the children and play educational games.
"My hope for Dickens Reads is just, again, creating that love of learning. Once we create that love of learning, it’ll help us close some gaps," says Foster.
3News is a proud sponsor of Dickens Reads, and we will keep you updated on Miss Jasinski’s class progress throughout the school year, through our Education Station series.
If you’d like to volunteer to read with the children at Charles Dickens Elementary, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's note: The video in the player above is from a previously published report.