Reading success in a Buffalo school classroom

"I’ve been reading better now”
Posted at 5:26 PM, Mar 29, 2022

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The youngest school students suffered a big hit on their reading skills during the pandemic. National studies show an alarming drop in reading ability, especially among students in kindergarten through second grade.

That impact is being felt in the Buffalo Public School District. But Read to Succeed Buffalotutors are working in a half-dozen city schools to improve literacy.

Brittysh Comer, student, in Read to Succeed program.

“Because I love reading and writing,” Brittysh Comer, student.

Comer is a second-grader at the Dr. Lydia T. Wright School here in Buffalo and she's very enthusiastic about reading.

She meets a couple of times a week with Read to Succeed Buffalo tutor Dale Bauer for one-on-one reading help.

“Oh, Brittysh is a great reader. She's doing really well,” Bauer remarked.

“What were her difficult challenges?” Buckley asked.

Read to Succeed Buffalo tutor Dale Bauer in classroom with Buffalo school student.

“She's been pretty good from the beginning, but she's just gotten really fluent and can really read with expression and really does well,” replied Bauer.

According to data, reading proficiency in the Buffalo Public School District is at 34-percent, that's 20-percent lower than the statewide average.

Anne Ryan, executive director, Read to Succeed Buffalo.

“All the kids that we're working with are slightly under their age-appropriate reading level, so they're not low enough where they're getting extra academic services from the district or anything like that — they're just below,” described Anne Ryan, executive director, Read to Succeed Buffalo.

Ryan can also be found in the Buffalo school classroom tutoring students.

The program is currently in six city schools with plans to grow to eight next Fall.

Books in the classroom used for Read to Succeed.

What makes this program so unique is the one-on-one tutoring and some reading techniques for fluency:

  • Echo Reading
  • Fill-in-the-Blank Reading
  • Switch-Off Reading
  • Choral Reading
  • Dramatic Reading

And if you're wondering how this Read to Succeed program is doing for these students the principal tells me she is seeing improvements in the data.

“For the students that are in this program, at least two or three indicators they've moved up and they've met their goal from beginning to middle,” explained Natasha Hendricks, principal.

Natasha Hendricks, principal, Dr. Lydia T. Wright School.

Principal Hendricks tells me about 20 of her students in one through third grade are in the tutoring program, critical grade levels to master reading skills for comprehension and academics.

“When they go from sounding out each letter to knowing the words and being able to become more fluent then they are able to understand more of the text they are reading,” Hendricks replied.

Third-grader Journee Fowler was reading and learning about ants during her tutoring session.

Third-grader Journee Fowler.

“Ants are kind of like dinosaurs because they've been alive since dinosaurs were here,” recalled Fowler. “I’ve been reading better now.”

Fowler tells me she had a stuttering problem when reading, but her tutor has helped her become a stronger reader.

Read to Succeed plans to recruit 120 new tutors this spring.

Bauer says volunteering as a classroom tutor has been a great experience for her.

“It’s just incredibly satisfying. I love seeing them and every time I walk out I’m in a good mood,” reflected Bauer.