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This nonprofit wants to help DC students improve their reading levels

Students might be back in the classroom but COVID-19 continues to create significant challenges in school.

WASHINGTON — Learning lapse continues to be a big concern around the nation and here in the DMV.

Reports from the group Empower K12 show students have lost four months of learning in math and one month of learning in reading. Those numbers increased significantly for students in under-resourced communities. 

According to research by the same report, under-resourced students have lost five months of learning in math and four months of learning in reading. This is from the most recent report during the fall of 2020.

Now, many nonprofits are busy trying to tighten the learning gap and help students who may have fallen behind.

"We know that the loss of instructional time has had an impact. However, for the young people that we’ve been working with for the last decade, they were already behind pre-pandemic and we know that they are even further behind," said Shukurat Adamoh-Faniyan, the Executive Director of Reading Partners D.C.

Adamoh-Faniyan said Reading Partners D.C. is working with nearly 950 elementary school students in 21 D.C. schools this year. The nonprofit is working with area schools and helping provide one on one tutoring for students.

"They have been identified by the school as young people who are behind anywhere from six months to two years behind. What we do is we recruit community volunteers who care deeply about literacy and want to engage," said Shukurat Adamoh-Faniyan.

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In an effort to reach additional students, Reading Partners D.C. launched a new virtual platform where they could continue to work with students and offer additional support.

In cases where in-person tutoring is not possible, Adamoh-Faniyan said Reading Partners Connects will allow volunteer tutors to work remotely with individual students in real-time. 

"We are looking forward to this year is being able to get back to schools using our brand new virtual platform that we launched that last school year," said Shukurat Adamoh-Faniyan.

Reading Partners D.C. is now looking for volunteers to help them reach more students across the District.

"We need volunteers. One of the things that has come out of all of this is certainly understanding the depth of the need and Reading Partners D.C. is here to be able to answer the call," said Shukurat Adamoh-Faniyan.

To learn more about volunteering, click here.

Each year, Reading Partners publishes reports highlighting student performance for the national organization and for each of its 12 respective regions across the country. The Impact and Innovation reports for the 2020-2021 school year have recently been posted on readingpartners.org and include the following highlights.

In Washington, D.C.:

  1. 420 students at 19 partner schools were matched with 516 community volunteers who delivered a total of 10,970 tutoring sessions over the course of the year.
  2. 100% of tutoring sessions were delivered online via Reading Partners Connects.
  3. Facing historic educational disruptions, 79% of K-2 Reading Partners students and 67% of all Reading Partners students met or exceeded their primary literacy growth goal.
  4. Despite the heavy shift to an online tutoring platform, and because volunteers received a collective 4,232 hours of training last year (including many new focus areas such as trauma-informed care), 86% of volunteers were satisfied with their experience.
  5. A recent DC Public Schools informal evaluation found that students who participated in Reading Partners in 2018-19 scored 30% higher on their DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) test scores than their peers who did not participate in Reading Partners’ program.
  6. Learn more about Reading Partners’ impact in Washington, DC here.
  7. Learn about Reading Partners’ national impact here

Correction: A previous version of this story had incorrect numbers for the number of students and schools Reading Partners D.C. is working with in 2021. Those numbers have been updated.

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