Feb 13, 2012 11:59 PM
TUCSON - It is Love of Reading week and first graders in Arizona have a challenge in front of them; be reading proficient by 3rd grade in the 2013-2014 school year or be held back. It's the law.
Looking at last year's aims scores in the Tucson Unified School District, 185 third graders fell far below the standard in reading.
185 would have been held back. Lucky for them, the law doesn't take effect for two more years. One T.U.S.D. school is racing the clock to get every kid reading.
At Ft. Lowell-Townsend K through 8, community volunteers work with the 4th graders who then work with Kindergarteners on reading. Educators say literacy begins in Kindergarten. This class is learning 220 sight words.
"Choose 3 foods that would make the healthier breakfast." Fourth grader Gloria Loera is just now getting her groove. She was new to Ft. Lowell-Townsend this year.
"I was in such a low grade of reading," she says. "And I thought everybody was smarter than me.
It's hard. And now the pressure's on.
"And any student that falls far below in reading would be retained," says John Bellisaro, the Principal.
Bellisario says, in two years, the AIMS test will seal every 3rd graders fate with a few exceptions.
"It could be students that have exceptional ed (special education) and have certain needs. Learning needs. It could be students that just came and have English Language Learners."
Celeste Aho teaches Kindergarten. "I have seen such a difference in the way the children are learning, the way that they're writing, their reading."
Aho is convinced sight words are working magic. For the first time in her career. all but four students were reading at grade level by December.
She says parents are key.
"Without their support, kids will not succeed."
Midway through 4th grade, and almost at grade level Gloria says she's improving.
I"'m smart enough to be in 4th grade, and I'm not thinking of other people are smarter than me. Cuz i'm smart the way I am."