Test Results Show Success of Dubuque Summer Academy

by Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

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By Katie Wiedemann

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Last summer, The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and St. Mark's Youth Enrichment held "The Summer Reading Academy" at Audubon School.

The program was a pilot project focused on preventing summer learning loss among students from low-income families. Now, test scores are showing the program's success.

As the sunsets over a cold, snow covered city, Wolfgang Stechman,7 reads aloud to anyone who'll listen.

Chris Stechman, Wolfgang's dad, said, "He'll read to our cat. And he'll read to his three sisters. "

Wolfgang was one of 47 students who spent last summer sharpening his skills. Teachers measured each student's progress in the 7 week program using the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills test.

"We did a before and after within our program using that standardized test, " said Eric Dregne, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque Vice President of Strategic Initiatives.

84 percent of the enrolled students either maintained or improved their reading skills. Dregne say that's a step in the right direction.

"74 percent of kids who don't read at grade level by 3rd grade, don't graduate high school," said Dregne. "Kids who don't graduate high school are far more likely to commit crime. "

Dregne says those statistics are what makes the reading improvement initiative a community wide issue.

"It's about creating a skilled and productive workforce," said Dregne.

For Wolfgang, it's just about cuddling up with a good book.

"Reading has been more of a treat and an enjoyment rather than a chore, " said Chris.

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