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Post Foundation afterschool initiative sparks reading proficiency
First students reach grade level on NC tests
Published Wednesday, January 30, 2019 9:44 am
by Ellison Clary | The Charlotte Post

The Charlotte Post Foundation-funded afterschool literacy program at Walter G. Byers Elementary School produced its first grade-level readers.

Seven elementary students soared from more than a year behind to reading on grade level after participating in a Charlotte Post Foundation remedial program.

The afterschool program operates at Walter G. Byers Elementary in the Greenville neighborhood. The foundation pays selected Byers teachers to stay after school three days a week to teach small groups of students who are at least a year and a half behind grade level.

The proficient readers represent a landmark, said Gerald Johnson, president of The Charlotte Post Foundation and publisher of The Charlotte Post newspaper. Previous results showed growth in reading skill, but this is the first time Byers students reached grade-level performance.

“The program works because the kids are familiar with the teachers and the teachers know them,” Johnson said. “The parents trust these teachers.”

Two of the seven who achieved grade-level marks on NC Department of Public Instruction tests are Carlee and Holden Sutton, fraternal twins whose mother Lea Ann Sutton teaches literacy at Byers.

“For me, the program just helps solidify with the kids what we do in class,” said Sutton, who does not teach in The Post Foundation program. Her twins struggled in reading, she said, and though they showed progress, they needed the extra push the after-school program provided.

Of 22 students in The Post Foundation program for the 2017-18 academic year, 19 showed improvement. The seven who attained proficiency participated for two years. High absenteeism was common among the three who didn’t improve.

The results for end-of-grade tests given last June were recently released by the state.

The scores prove third- and fourth-graders who were far behind are capable of learning, said Byers Principal Anthony Calloway.

“We have several kids who are showing college and career readiness,” he said. “That is the ultimate goal of any educational institution. You want to make sure your kids are prepared for life after high school.”

Typically, there is one teacher for every five students in the after-school program. They remain after regular class for at least an hour three days a week. The Post Foundation provides transportation home.

The next Charlotte Post Foundation after-school program began its third year at Byers on Jan. 29 with 30 students who will receive special instruction on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.

“The growth in learning for our kids is a slow process,” Johnson said. “You can’t bring students to proficiency easily because it’s a growth process that takes separate steps to get them there.”

Many face difficult circumstances outside class, Calloway said. Up to 25 percent are homeless periodically.

“When you have parents working two or three jobs, those are the environments that our scholars are growing up in,” Calloway said. “The family doesn’t have time for academic support.”

But the latest scores show that students in these situations can learn, he added.

“It’s very promising,” Calloway said, “and we look forward to getting more kids to proficiency.”   


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