Posted at: 02/25/2013 5:33 PM
Updated at: 02/25/2013 6:15 PM
By: Dan Conradt
(ABC 6 News) -- It's the skill that comes first among the three R's and now Minnesota students who need to improve their reading ability have another place to turn for help.
"Reading is the foundation of all other learning at school," Pat Graves told us. "I’m a literacy tutor for the Minnesota Reading Corps."
It’s part of the federal "Americorps" program.
"I work one on one with students. I have 17 students that I see for 20 minutes a day," Graves explained. She’s one of two reading tutors at Austin’s Sumner Elementary School.
The students she works with are performing just below grade level.
"So they take the kids who are right on the verge of making it and give them an extra boost and support them to get them to grade level," said Sumner principal Sheila Berger.
"Bring them up to speed so that they can master reading and master the other subjects then," added Graves.
"Really focus on decoding for young readers, or fluency for some readers who have the decoding part, they just aren't very fluent," said principal Berger.
“And comprehension, that they know what they're reading so they understand the story as well," Graves added.
At Sumner, the tutors work with first, second and third graders.
"Research shows that by the end of third grade if you're not reading at grade level at that point, it takes almost triple the amount of effort after that window closes to get students to grade level," said principal Berger.
“If you can't read, then you can't learn science, you can't learn social studies or math, either, do word problems if you can't understand the reading that goes into it," Graves said.
"And as soon as a student meets the criteria, out they go and a new student comes in," principal Berger added.
The "Reading Corps" has more than a thousand tutors in Minnesota schools this year, and expects to have at least that many next year.
Within the next week, they'll announce which schools will get tutors for the coming school year.