More time equals literacy

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It’s never too early to look at summer literacy retention, and Lasley and Molholm elementary schools are getting some help in closing the literacy gap.

Both schools, along with Swanson Elementary in Arvada and Edgewater Elementary, are recipients of the $25,000 Jeffco Summer of Early Learning grant, a project of the Jefferson Foundation.

The project is funded through the Mile High United Way’s Social Innovation Fund, with matching grants from the Salazar Family Foundation, the Leon Lowenstein Foundation and Schomp Automotive.

The program provides 420 low-income students with six weeks of additional literacy programs during the summer .

“The program is an evidence based approach to improving kindergarten through third-grade literacy,” said executive director of the Jefferson Foundation, Katie Tiernan. “The evaluation of the program is very rigorous, because we want to be able to show other schools that this works.”

Tiernan said that one of the main goals of the program is to prevent the “summer reading slide” when students often times lose some of the progress they made in school because they’re not learning.

John D’Orazio, principal of Molholm Elementary, said the extra time given to the students has been really beneficial, especially for those who are falling behind.

“The aim is to have every child at grade level by the time they get to the third grade,” he said. “We invite students who are struggling the most, but we open it to anyone, because the extra instruction isn’t going to hurt.”

In look at the past year, Tiernan said that students are showing extremely positive results.

“We’re in the middle of evaluating the 2012 year, and we’ve found that kids picked up one week to three months of literacy in that six week period,” she said. “That may sound like a whole lot, but the fact that they made gains is very important.”

Tiernan said that through the all the partnerships the foundation has, the 2013 program has already had all the fundraising needed.