The ability to read is critical to a child’s success in school, life-long earning potential and ability to contribute to the nation’s economy and its security. According to the American Educational Research Association, a student who is not reading on grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate than a child who is. If you add poverty to the mix, a student becomes 13 times less likely to graduate.

Those critical truths are why Education Connection has partnered with Round Rock ISD and other districts in Central Texas, developing a plan to ensure as many students as possible are reading proficiently by the end of third grade. The model includes recruiting and training Literacy Partner volunteers who come to area schools once a week to read one-on-one with students for at least 30 minutes.

The program was piloted at Voigt and Brushy Creek elementary schools in 2014 with 42 volunteers serving 84 students. Principals and teachers have been so impressed with the program that it has expanded to 24 Round Rock ISD schools with more than 300 volunteers serving nearly 600 students.

“Having the Education Literacy Partners at Voigt has provided many of our students a wonderful opportunity to not only read with an adult but establish a connection as well,” Voigt Principal Cheryl Hestery said. “Our students thrive with our Literacy Partners and look forward to their visit every week.”

Last year, McNeil High School teacher Deborah Palmer was given the green light for her high school students to participate as Literacy Partners. According to Education Connection, McNeil students are the only teens working with them and serve as an example to the younger students.

Amy Hagen, Education Connection expansion director, says she is excited to add the McNeil students to her volunteer base. Because the program has grown so rapidly the staff is always looking for more volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a literacy partner, visit the Education Connection website to learn how.