Multipronged literacy program helps students improve reading scores
West Virginia ranks 47th in the United States in broadband access. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many children haven’t had the ability to connect online with their teachers or their classmates.
As West Virginia University Extension Service pivoted its Energy Express summer literacy program from a traditional, in-person approach to an online approach due to COVID-19, the educators realized that not all children have access to the same resources and that counties in their service area had different pandemic restrictions. Therefore, they planned a multipronged approach to providing reading enrichment and instruction to the children.
WVU Extension created an extensive collection of educational videos that were available on their YouTube channel and broadcast on West Virginias PBS station, WVPBTV. Weekly take-home activity boxes that included one new book were created by the local Energy Express team each week and made available for parents to pick up for their children. AmeriCorps members, acting as reading mentors, provided outdoor pop-up activities in various locations. To provide quality online reading instruction, they contracted with Scholastic Lit Pro, which has a built-in assessment tool to measure students’ reading levels.
The program reached 2,391 children, with 1,901 participating in activities on at least one day. Pre- and post-test scores were available for 239 children. At least half of the children in first through fourth grades experienced the equivalent of a three-month gain in reading proficiency. Children who were eligible for free- and reduced-price school lunch made significant gains in reading proficiency scores.