Support summer reading and reverse the slide

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 17, 2015

By Elizabeth Cook

elizabeth.cook@salisburypost.com

Several contributions came in last week for the Impact Summer Reading Fund — at the same time that new research emerged to prove the value of putting books into students’ hands over the summer.

The Post launched the fund a week ago with a goal of $76,000. That would enable each rising 6th- through 12th-grader in Rowan-Salisbury Schools to choose a book to take home over the summer as his or her own. The schools would host events over the summer that would offer book discussions and fun activities.

To date, $13,594 has been raised and more is on its way, judging from the feedback the Post has received.

Phil Kirk sent this note, for example:

“As chairman of State Board of Education, I made reading my top priority and kissed two pigs because students read a large number of books,” wrote Kirk, a former teacher who has always held education high.

Kirk said he was sending checks for East Rowan High School, where he graduated, and for Knox Middle and Salisbury High, where he taught. The checks are in the mail.

Literacy is a top goal of the Rowan-Salisbury Schools, too — all year long.

A recent study found that summer reading does not just decrease the summer slide in students’ literacy skills; it can even reverse the loss and help students make gains.

That was among the findings in a two-year study of a pilot program conducted by Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation’s largest nonprofit literacy organization.

The people at RIF thought they might be able to cut summer learning loss in reading proficiency by half — from 80 percent to 40 percent— with a boost in reading materials. Targeting children from disadvantaged communities, the program provided books and literacy materials for the classroom and for children to take home and keep. It also invested in professional development for teachers, tools to aid parental involvement and other enrichment opportunities for children and their families.

The results of the pilot program, Read for Success, were even better than expected. Among the research findings:

• On average, 57 percent of students improved their reading proficiency, instead of 80 percent of children showing loss.

• Students performing below the 10th percentile showed the greatest gains.

• Even students with strong reading skills, at or above the 90th percentile, increased reading proficiency.

• Schools with the greatest improvements had a full culture change and strong parental involvement.

The school system is collecting books through the Give 5, Read 5 campaign to make sure elementary school children have books to take home over the summer.

The Impact Summer Reading Fund is aimed at boosting literacy among middle and high school students.

For the convenience of parents and teachers, donations may be made directly at individual schools, if the donors like. Just make clear the gift is for the Impact Summer Reading Fund.

All checks will be channeled through the central office to be sure the Post gets the information to publish in the paper.

Other ways to give:

By check, made out to the Rowan-Salisbury School System, with “Impact Summer Reading” in the memo line. Also indicate whether you want the funds to go to a particular school. Please mail to:

Rowan-Salisbury Schools

Attn: Tara Trexler

P.O. Box 2349

Salisbury, NC 28145-2349

Checks may also be dropped off at one of the school administrative sites located at 314 N. Ellis St, Salisbury or 110 S. Long St, East Spencer

• By credit card online at https://www.fftc.org/impact-summer-reading-program. Note that credit card companies take approximately a 3 percent fee out of each transaction.

• By transfer, for those who make their donations through Foundations for the Carolinas; please call Meg Dees at 704-224-8840.

Here are the latest gifts:

Beginning balance   $13,169.92

For East Rowan High School, from Anonymous … $50

Tara Trexler .. $50

David Alexander …$100

Agnes Struzick … $100

Jean Wright Fletcher … $50

Clyde Harriss… $50

In honor of Sally Helms’ birthday, James and Anne Wilson … $25

Total $13,594.92

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