According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, approximately 40 percent of America's fourth graders are reading below the basic level. In 1996, President Clinton announced the America Reads Challenge. This Challenge was designed to help ensure that every child in America can read independently by the end of the third grade. In order to achieve this goal, we must tackle this challenge at a local level.
In response to the America Reads Challenge, AmeriCorps and Indiana Campus Compact developed Indiana Reading Corps, a literacy support program that targets children in grades K-8. The program was established in 1997, and Manchester University is currently the largest and only sustainable site in Indiana.
The goal of Indiana Reading Corps is to provide children in grades K-8 (at local elementary schools and community sites, as well as homeschooled children) an opportunity to be paired with a Manchester University reading coach.
The tutoring programs take on the "Reading Coaches" tutoring model as a significant part of their overall tutoring efforts. This model, as used by Manchester University, stipulates that one reading coach will meet one-on-one with a grade school student twice a week for half an hour.
Sessions are highly structured to include not only reading a book but also working on sight vocabulary and writing activities. Overall, the focus is on the coaches and children having conversations about books.
Responsibilities of a Reading Coach
Conduct two 30-minute sessions per week with an assigned student involving activities designed to improve the student's vocabulary recognition and reading comprehension skills.
Administer reading skills assessment once per semester.
Maintain appropriate paperwork.
Periodically report on student's progress to the Indiana Reading Corps coordinator and site supervisor.
The Indiana Reading Corps at Manchester University has a three-fold mission:
To provide college students with an opportunity for valuable service-learning experiences though volunteer work as reading coaches.
To help K-8 students with reading comprehension and vocabulary recognition while helping them to enjoy reading.
To provide support to local K-8 teachers in the area of reading.
IRC in Action
The Manchester University Indiana Reading Corps program places reading coaches in elementary schools in Wabash, Fulton, and Kosciusko counties.
In addition to involvement in elementary schools, IRC partners with after-school and Head Start programs enabling us to reach even more students.
Indiana Reading Corps is funded though Manchester University, The Community Foundation of Wabash County, Kosciusko County Community Foundation and The DEKKO Foundation. Reading coaches are Manchester University students who are either volunteers or students who are eligible for federal work study. The Indiana Reading Corps coordinator is a full-time Manchester University staff member who is responsible for the recruitment, training, placement, supervision, and evaluation of the reading coaches.
Indiana Reading Corps
Manchester University, MU Box 17
604 E. College Ave.
North Manchester, IN 46962