WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- According to a national survey, 86 percent of eighth graders in Washington D.C. read far below their grade level. It's been proven that without good reading skills, students face limited opportunities. The Literacy Lab in Northwest D.C. is not only building strong readers, but strong futures too.

The Literacy Lab is a non-profit organization that pairs tutors one on one with students who need assistance. They deliver high quality instruction twice a week for two hours after school.

Ashley Johnson, a former high school teacher, is the founder and executive director of the program. She says, "With the Literacy Lab the tutors are responsible for maybe just one student at a time. So from a teaching perspective, this is really ideal."

"I've learned that it is possible for students to make significant growth quickly with consistent instruction from a professional adult that come in consistently twice a week," Johnson says. "The kids can make huge gains and you can see the student actually enjoy reading instead of trying to avoid it."

Shannon Feinblatt, the Principal of Smothers Elementary School, knows the importance of having the Literacy Lab on site. In three years, the program has made a significant difference.

"We can't do everything in the 6 1/2 hours that we have the students all day," Feinblatt says. "We have a lot of curriculum that we have to accomplish in that time. So any type of partnership that we can have from the outside that is willing to come in and help our students in the afternoon when they're here from 3:30 - 6PM is an enhancement to our program all around."

The program operates in 45 D.C. schools and works with 300 students. They keep students engaged by using a variety of techniques including songs, poems, articles, and comics. Literacy Lab works closely with teachers and parents and together they build a strong foundation.

When a student gets into the Literacy Lab program, not only do they change their reading scores, they actually change their life.

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