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Charlotte's young English learners get reading boost

A group of students learns with the help of a reading specialist during the Rising Readers program.
International House
A group of students learns with the help of a reading specialist during the Rising Readers program.

This story was produced through a collaboration between WFAE and La Noticia. You can read it in Spanish at La Noticia. Puedes leer la nota en español en La Noticia.

Around 400 students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are expected to participate in a reading program, Rising Up, this fall to boost literacy among 3rd to 5th graders who live in non-English speaking households.

Coming out of COVID-19 school lockdowns, English-language learners faced serious challenges to recover their reading and writing skills.

Less than 5% of English learners in Charlotte elementary and middle schools achieved 2021 reading scores that indicated they were on track for success.

That’s one reason International House expanded its summer program with CMS, Rising Readers, to reach students throughout the year, explained International House director Autumn Weil.

“We are ensuring that not only are they not losing English that they've learned the previous school year, but they're actually excelling, especially with the learning loss that COVID created,” Weil said.

Students will receive two to three hours of free tutoring a week at four CMS elementary schools. International House is currently recruiting volunteers to serve as reading specialists with the students.

The fall program begins in mid-September.

International House will also offer free beginner and intermediate-level English classes for adults this month. More information on dates and placement testing can be found on the International House website.

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Kayla Young is a Report for America corps member covering issues involving race, equity, and immigration for WFAE and La Noticia, an independent Spanish-language news organization based in Charlotte. Major support for WFAE's Race & Equity Team comes from Novant Health and Wells Fargo.