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Help on the way to third graders struggling to read at Cleveland elementary school

Every third grade student at Charles Dickens Elementary School is struggling with reading, but a new program is providing needed assistance.

CLEVELAND — Right now, there is a crisis at a Cleveland area elementary school when it comes to the third grade students. Every single third grader is struggling to read at Charles Dickens Elementary School.

Inside Charles Dickens Elementary School, students learn a variety of subjects in class. After school, there is a support program helping third graders who struggle to read. 

Principal Jocelyn Foster says learning to read can be stressful.

“Sometimes when you really get caught up in the test It can take-away from the joy of reading,” says Foster.

The newly formed Dickens Reading Program plans to help. Third grader Kamera Stepeney and other students tell 3News they love the program.

“My favorite part is that we read books and be in groups and have lots of fun reading,” says Stepeney.

The program is interactive and fun, but there are elements of serious business.  According to the Ohio Department of Education, 43% of CMSD third graders are proficient on the English Language Arts test. But at Dickens Elementary, not a single third grader has a proficient reading score. The principal was brought in specifically to help change this trend.

“So I’m hoping that the program will provide students with some of that extra instruction that they need to close some of the gaps fill in some of the things that they really need to work on,” says Foster.

Community volunteers play a vital role by conducting education related games, reading donated books to the kids, and working with the parents of students who may also struggle to read. Carmine Stewart with Seeds of Literacy says its imperative to make sure the parents are included to make sure they have the skillset to read to and read with their kids at home.

“Often kids are coming home with work and need help with it and often parents aren’t prepared to deal with that,” says Stewart.

The plan is to work with the third graders twice a week afterschool though the end of the school year and for the fun word games and reading to transform into reading comprehension.

“My hope is that a brick by brick we’ll start to get better. Kinds will start to become stronger and those things will start to eventually show up in out in our numbers of students that are becoming more proficient,” says Principal Foster.

WKYC is a proud sponsor providing volunteers for the Dickens reading program. We are going to track the students’ progress til the end of the school year. 

There is still time to volunteer to help the students if you’re interested. Please contact Margaret Bernstein at mbernstei@wkyc.com. 

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