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Project Tutor, Read Today making a difference for Utah students


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SALT LAKE CITY — At the start of the school year, we launched a statewide grassroots movement to provide tutors to struggling readers — and we've found it's boosting scores and spirits.

The odds are stacked against Anthony Frausto. He started third grade nearly two years behind in his reading skills. His father is serving a life sentence for murder.

But Anthony has found new confidence through reading with his tutor. "Because you get better and better and better, you learn bigger words," Anthony said.

Now he's reading at grade level and just made Washington Elementary School's dean's list.

"He beams every time he reaches one of those weekly goals that we set. He beams when his fluency rate is better than last time," said Natalie Milne, the school's literacy coordinator.

"It would be real easy for him to fall back into the shadows of life," she continued. "But he has risen above that, and this program has helped him do that."

Life changing transformations are taking place at other schools too, as volunteer neighbors help build reading and relationships:

  • One little girl in Ogden is smiling because she couldn't read when she started first grade, but now she can.
  • In at least two cases, tutors discovered struggling readers needed glasses. They now have them.
  • And students all over Utah are making real progress with our Read Today initiative, which paired 2,579 students with individual tutors — 80 percent made accelerated improvement, according to before-and-after Dibels reading tests; 50 percent nearly tripled expected growth in just eight weeks.

"There's no way the state could provide a one-on-one initiative," said Kathy Peterson, Title 1 director for the Washington County School District. "This provides (for) children who don't have that one-on-one (attention) at home."

Though not evident in test scores, KSL News has learned tutors also benefit. Mary Lovendahl almost refused the call to tutor. She's battled depression, but she found reading to kids so uplifting, she now tutors a dozen students every day of the school week.

"They're helping me as much as I'm helping them," Lovendahl said.

To learn more, visit the Project Tutor and Read Today websites.

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Nadine Wimmer

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