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 Everyone a Reader Helps Students for Two Decades

​For nearly 20 years, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) has helped children catch up with their reading skills through the Everyone a Reader Volunteer Program.

Through the program, about 2,000 tutors sit one-on-one with about 3,000 students each year. The volunteers help students in grades 1 through 3 whose reading skills are just below grade level by listening and interacting with them as they read. This helps them comprehend and connect with what they’re reading. Students are carefully monitored as they move up reading levels to achieve proficiency at their grade level.

“In this high-tech world, it’s a very personal way to reach students,” said Cindy Dunlevy, who oversees the program.

Teachers pick the students who need additional reading practice. Each participating school has a coordinator, who manages the program for their site. This person could be a teacher, principal, or volunteer.

Students from 150 schools in 23 districts throughout the county are participating in the program. They read for 15 minutes at each session and can get as many as five sessions each week.

“The more times the kids are seen, the bigger the growth we’ve seen,” Dunlevy said.

Volunteers get two hours of training on strategies to support students’ text comprehension and spend at least 90 minutes a week reading with students. They can get work-study or community-service credit from several local colleges. Many of the volunteers are older students, retirees, or military members.

“It’s a win-win-win,” Dunlevy said. “It’s a win for the kids, the volunteers love it, and the teachers love it.”

SDCOE created the program based on research about three cueing systems successful readers integrate as they read: meaning, structure and phonics.

For more information about volunteering or bringing the program to your school, contact Cindy Dunlevy, 800-711-READ, or visit the Everyone a Reader webpage.