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Early grade reading program successful again

According to results released in July, students in six Beaufort County schools and two Jasper County schools participating in the United Way of the Lowcountry’s Early Grade Reading Program saw increases in the reading portion of their MAP test scores.

A full 98% of Beaufort County students and 95% of Jasper County students participating in the tutoring program raised their test scores by the end of the year, with 80% of those increasing their scores by double digits.

“The scores are indicative of the success of this program in its second full year,” said Tina Gentry, United Way of the Lowcountry President and CEO. “We’re obviously thrilled with the hard work of our volunteers and the students themselves.”

A total of 309 students in St. Helena Elementary, Joseph Shanklin Elementary, Hilton Head Early Childhood Center, Hilton Head School for the Creative Arts, Red Cedar Elementary, Pritchardville Elementary, Hardeeville Elementary, and Ridgeland Elementary participated in the Early Grade Reading Program during the course of the 2013-2014 school year. Both Beaufort and Jasper County schools use MAP testing as way to assess core reading knowledge in elementary students.

The Early Grade Reading program was started in 2012 by United Way of the Lowcountry as an education initiative that aligned with a United Way Worldwide emphasis on becoming a community impact organization.  The specific goals of the program are to reduce by 50% the number of students dropping out of high school in Beaufort County (currently at 3.8%) and Jasper County (5.6%), increase to 80% the number of students reading on grade level upon entering 4th grade in both counties, and enlist 600 volunteer tutors, mentors and readers for the program.

The United Way of the Lowcountry’s Early Grade Reading Program employs curriculum approved by the South Carolina Department of Education and used approximately 200 volunteer tutors last year as well as over 20 AmeriCorps members who serve as part of an organizational grant. To increase capacity to serve, the need for more tutors for the 2014-2015 school year is ongoing.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Bethany Marcinkowski, Director of Education Impact in the United Way of the Lowcountry’s Bluffton office at 843-837-2000 or visit www.uwlowcountry.org

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