Making It Better For Students Who Are Severely Behind: Teachers Tutoring Kids

- Did you know a child who can't read by the end of third grade is more likely to ultimately drop out of school?  That's according to a Houston non-profit literacy group that is working to "make it better".

When we visited Ross Elementary we walked into a classroom with students but we didn’t find “regular” teachers.  Instead there were super specialized tutors who are Making It Better for hundreds of Houston students who have fallen severely behind.  “They don't know their letters.  They certainly don't know their sounds,” explains Making It Better Executive Director Jacque Daughtry.  “Making It Better comes alongside the schools to help them bring the children up to grade level”. 

Making it better is a non-profit group founded by Houston City Councilman Jerry Davis.  As part of the program certified teachers go into elementary schools twice a week working with the same kids the entire school year.

“There's only four students to one highly qualified, highly trained tutor” adds Daughtry who says it's crucial to catch kids early because if a child makes it to the end of third grade and can't read they're four times more likely to quit school or become incarcerated.

”70% of our adult population in prisons is functionally illiterate”.

Daughtry says by age three, children living in poverty have heard 30 million fewer words.  “When you think about why they need intervention already at Kindergarten, they don't have the background”.   

The program partners with parents stressing parents are their child's first and primary teacher.

“You just have to know 'hey I'm supposed to be doing this' and parents don't know, lots of parents don't know.  Stresses of poverty, that's a big problem or lack of education, working two or three jobs” Daughtry explains. 

“Our kids tell us they don't have crayons at home and as a Mom and now a Grandma that's just heartbreaking to me.  They don't have books at home”. 

The program is making it better for 1,700 Houston kids this year alone.

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