SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An annual reading program by United Way of San Diego County helped nearly 500 students in the City Heights neighborhood improve their literacy skills, the nonprofit announced today.
The "Readers in the Heights" summer reading initiative included 479 students from elementary schools in the City Heights area, a sharp increase from the program's 40 participants just two years ago. The program is intended to combat "summer slide," when students lose literacy gains they made during the school year. According to United Way, 86 percent of students assessed at the beginning and end of the program maintained or improved their reading comprehension.
"We use proven assessment tools to measure impact and they show that these literacy practices have made significant progress in student reading," United Way of San Diego County President and CEO Nancy Sasaki said. "These practices help close learning gaps and open new worlds by creating happy, excited and confident readers."
United Way partnered with the San Diego Unified School District, the San Diego Public Library, the San Diego Police Department, PrimeTime SAY San Diego and Words Alive to produce the program.
Members of the literacy group Words Alive trained members of the program's staff on how to implement evidence-based reading practices across the program's seven sites, including four elementary schools in and around City Heights. The students totaled nearly 10,000 hours of literacy learning during the 20-day program and received a total of 900 free books.
"Research shows that children who don't have access to books, camps or enrichment programs during the summer recess can lose more than two months of reading skills and can fall behind almost three months in their learning," said San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten. "Each year, the Readers in the Heights literacy initiative works to increase summer learning opportunities, and with the help of partners and volunteers, we are able to make a huge impact over four weeks. We look forward to continuing to expand the program in the future."