Reading initiative now under way

WARREN – Using education as a platform for better income and better health, the United Way of Trumbull County on Monday unveiled its plan to increase reading skills for students in kindergarten through second grade.

“Reading Great by 8” includes two programs designed to help more children meet Ohio’s third-grade reading requirements, especially children from low- to moderate-income families. It is being funded by the Helene P. Kaighin and Nancy Van Fossan foundations.

A third of Trumbull County third-graders scored below efficient in fall reading test results released in December. Under the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, students can be held back if they don’t meet the reading targets.

The results stated 32,905 students, or 26.2 percent of students across Ohio, showed limited proficiency, which misses the new mark. About half of the 21,177 students who showed basic proficiency also will fall below what’s been dubbed the “cut score” for passing third grade, officials have said.

That puts more than 34 percent of the roughly 125,000 Ohio third-graders who participated at risk. United Way’s new initiative seeks to change that.

The ABC Reading Ready program will instruct parents and motivate students to be better readers, with help from the Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority, Trumbull County Family & Children’s First Council, Mahoning Valley Scrappers and Warren Trumbull County Public Library.

The Ready, Set, Go program will help students in Warren over the summer to prepare for the Third-Grade Reading Assessments in the fall, with a partnership that includes the Mahoning Valley Scrappers and Warren City Schools.

“We’re very thankful; we’re very fortunate,” said Warren Schools Superintendent Michael Notar. “I’m a firm believer in early education. This is one piece of the puzzle that will help out tremendously.”

A book giveaway will be held for Warren students, along with literacy kits and additional materials to help show kids that reading is fun, said United Way of Trumbull County President Ginny Pasha.

Books are being collected by the GFWC Ohio Warren Junior Women’s League and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. For each book donated to the Scrappers, a free game ticket will be provided to the donor, said General Manager Jordan Taylor, and the organization hopes to donate at least 1,000 books.

For more information about United Way’s new initiative, contact Pasha at 330-369-1000, Ext. 26.