READ CHARLOTTE HELPS MECKLENBURG COUNTY FAMILIES KEEP CHILDREN’S READING ON TRACK AMID COVID-19 RELATED CHALLENGES

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Charlotte, N.C. (October 26, 2020) – An effort that began initially as a summer reading loss initiative is evolving into a robust effort to help families keep their children’s reading on track in Mecklenburg County even as the COVID-19 health crisis continues. With school interruptions and the many challenges families continue to face during this time, the potential for learning loss remains a real concern. It was announced today that the online “Reading Checkup” initiative, brought forth by Read Charlotte in partnership with Learning Ovations, has undergone several upgrades and is now available for families to support their PreK-3rd grade children’s progress during the 2020-21 school year.

“It’s estimated that children in grades 3-8 have averaged a 30% reading loss by the fall of 2020 and this impact will be greater for earlier grades and at-risk children,” explains Read Charlotte Executive Director Munro Richardson. “The concerns aren’t only those of educators. The Wall Street Journal earlier this year reported the results of a national survey that found two-thirds of families were worried about their children permanently falling behind in school.”

The online tool can provide families with information about the reading progress of their children as often as every six weeks. It also suggests targeted activities families can do at home using everyday materials to keep their child on track for reading at grade-level. Given social distancing restrictions and interruption of normal extra-curricular supports, the Reading Checkup fills an important role for families needing extra help in addition to classroom instruction.

Read Charlotte is working with Learning Ovations, a California-based company, to bring the Reading Checkup to Mecklenburg County. Five years and 2,000 hours of classroom observations led to Learning Ovations’ development of the patented A2i system, which powers the family-focused Reading Checkup tool. The system links reading quiz results to customized recommendations for specific types of reading activities using evidence-based algorithms for each grade level Pre-K through 3rd grade.

“We work with organizations that seek excellence at every turn in order to improve outcomes and close achievement gaps in their communities,” said Jay Connor, Founder and Chief Executive of Learning Ovations. “Other partners like IES, the research department of the US of Department of Education, and school districts in multiple states are affecting transformative change when it comes to reading outcomes by utilizing our proven technology. We’re all very excited to see what this tool, reimagined for families in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, can achieve.”

A team comprised of staff from Read Charlotte, the Helps Education Fund, Augustine Literacy Project-Charlotte and Child Care Resources Inc., has worked with Learning Ovations to ensure there are literacy activities that can be done at home in a variety of settings. Read Charlotte partnered with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools over the summer, which produced over 100 videos to explain to families how to do Reading Checkup activities at home. More than 80 other local groups helped with family outreach.

Over the summer, 2,573 local children in Mecklenburg County received a Reading Checkup. Community organizations like Black Child Development Institute-Charlotte and the Charlotte Bilingual Preschool worked directly with many of those families.

“The Reading Checkup was well received by families this summer,” said Black Child Development Institute-Charlotte President Dr. Devonya Govan-Hunt. “They understood what was at stake and approached this tool with open minds and open hearts. It equips families to build the capacity of their children as learners and gives them the tools to effectively advocate for them in literacy. Parents want what is best for their children. So, I am confident this will open the door of empowerment this school year for many, many more families.”

Families are encouraged to visit ReadingCheckup.org to begin as soon as possible. Here, parents will:

  • Learn their PreK-3rd grade child’s current reading and vocabulary levels using two quick online quizzes.
  • Learn the specific skills their child needs to work on to keep growing their word reading, vocabulary and comprehension.
  • Receive customized recommendations for targeted, family-friendly activities they can do at home. 

Through Learning Ovations’ partnership with Read Charlotte, the Reading Checkup currently is exclusively available to families in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. There is no cost for families in Mecklenburg County to get a “Reading Checkup” and the minimum technology requirement is a smartphone.

Read Charlotte is partnering with local community groups to offer support for families using this resource. Community organizations or companies interested in promoting Reading Checkup may contact Read Charlotte Communications Manager Elise Esasky at elise@readcharlotte.org for supportive materials.

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