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Education Station: Dickens Reads wraps up for the school year at Cleveland's Charles Dickens Elementary

Each Charles Dickens Elementary students who attended 3News' after-school tutoring program showed improvement in reading and writing.

CLEVELAND — All school year, 3News has been following the students at Charles Dickens Elementary School in Cleveland. And as summer break begins, we wanted to update you on how they did with the volunteer-driven tutoring program that WKYC Studios sponsored, Dickens Reads. 

"Dickens Reads this year has been phenomenal! This year we saw more parent activity than we’ve had in the past, and I’ve also seen more growth in student outcomes as well," says Dickens Principal Jocelyn Foster.

Miss Jasinsky – whose 3rd grade class we’ve been following all school year – said Dickens Reads was a game-changer this year.

"They really showed a lot of progress. One of my students, she started at a kindergarten level, like in the low 150’s, which is Kindergarten level scores. When we took the test recently, she got a 196, which is huge because that’s 3rd grade," says Jasinsky.

In January, we brought in literacy specialist Amanda Lowe. She structured Dickens Reads to fit each individual students’ needs. Out of the fifteen 2nd and 3rd graders Amanda assessed, 8 started out reading at a kindergarten level or below, 5 at a beginning first-grade level, and only two were reading at or above grade level. By May, each student’s reading level went up an average of one grade. Their spelling went up about a grade and a half.

"Every student in the program this year has shown growth and that's so exciting. They really worked hard. Everybody in the community who came to help worked hard," said Foster. 

Dickens Reads was also filled with unique experiences for the kids, thanks to members of the community.

An author and illustrator - both from the Cleveland area - stopped by to read to the kids, a Harlem Globetrotter showed them some fancy tricks, the kids met a local artist and made up stories about his figurines, received new library cards, took home tons of free books from Cleveland Kids Book Bank and Literacy in the Hood, even starred in a couple of commercials on literacy.

I think we’ve really built them up and helped them find that love for reading, which makes me very happy because you see kids smiling and reading at the same time now," says Jasinsky.

Students recently gave the volunteer tutors handmade cards with flower petals that read "Thank you for helping us grow". Dickens Reads was started three years ago to help Dickens students pass the state reading guarantee. 

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