Reading coaches volunteer to help young students

Luis Rojas, Reporter

The Kern County Superintendent of Schools office announced in September that they are looking for volunteers for the annual Kern County Community Reading Project. This project recruits and trains community volunteers to become reading coaches for local second grade students. 

 According to Teressa Twisselman, coordinator English/Language Arts at KCSOS, “The program is a perfect opportunity for community members who would like to make a positive impact in the lives of young students who are experiencing challenges in learning how to read. One hour a week is all it takes four children become successful readers.”

The Annie E. Casey Foundation performed a study where they found out that students who were not proficient in reading by the end of third grade were four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers. The National Conference of State Legislatures also states that 88 percent of students who failed to earn a high school diploma were struggling students in the third grade. 

The Reading Project started back in 1999, having the Bakersfield Californian employees placed in classrooms at the Bakersfield City School District reading to students. The project was later expanded to include more than 200 volunteers and more than 20 school sites. 

Volunteers attend a two-hour training session to learn the guide reading technique, then then they dedicate one hour, one day a week for at least one semester. This program runs from September through December and from January through May. In each visit, a volunteer coaches four students individually for 15 minutes. A different participant is present in the classroom every day, assuring daily guided practice for the selected students.

In 2018-2019 school year, 250 volunteers participated at 24 different schools. There is also data collected on 155 students showing that made a progress of up to eight months in growth for the 2018 fall semester. In the spring semester 2019 data from 180 students, showed that they made close to seven moths average in growth.