This school year, Waco ISD implemented a plan in certain grade levels that aim to improve literacy in the classroom.
Students in kindergarten, first, second, third, sixth, seventh and ninth grades are spending more time reading and writing than before.
"The district's initiative is getting more books in more kids' hands," said Bell's Hill Elementary teacher Lindsey Melancon. "The goal is to have them love reading, not only to learn how and how to love it, but they can also go home and read to younger siblings."
Waco ISD Assistant Superintendent of Communications and Community Engagement Kyle DeBeer said the initiative was developed following community meetings last year.
"Literacy is one of the biggest challenges we have and that starts even before they come to our schools," DeBeer said.
Therefore, DeBeer said partnerships are also included in the initiative, including a program that helps parents prepare their children for kindergarten.
In addition, volunteers recruited and trained by 41 churches have been visiting 12 elementary schools to read with students. Furthermore, community partners organized by the YMCA distributed personalized books to Waco ISD first and second graders.
"The literacy plan is certainly about what we do in the classroom between the bells during the school but it's just how as much about how members of the community can help us build better literacy skills," DeBeer said.
Currently, 61 percent of third-graders passed the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. The district's goal is to have 83 percent of third graders reading at grade level by 2020.
"As our kids build literacy skills, as they become better readers that has a world of benefits to what they do in their lives but it also translates success in standardized tests," DeBeer said.
The district will receive feedback from teachers and librarians before the plan is implemented to other grades in Waco ISD.
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