Fabian Avila, 7, who was standing in line with his mother at the Richard O. Hastie Clubhouse on Wednesday evening, waiting to collect his computer, said he wasn’t an especially good reader when he started the reading program at the McKinley School Boys & Girls Club site, but now he loves reading.
“The most fun I had is to read a book to the other kids,” Fabian said. “Every time I read, I read five books.”
Fabian was one of 40 second-grade students at the McKinley and Central School club sites that took part in a five-month reading intervention program that began in December, designed to raise each child’s reading comprehension, word recognition and fluency — the number of words read in a minute.
Kelly Wilson, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy, said the planning began in 2013 after a California Department of Education report listed 58 percent of Tracy third-grade students as not reading proficiently at their grade level.
Wilson said the club decided to try to raise the reading skills with a pilot reading program for local second-grade students.
“As an organization, we decided to make this a top priority for us,” Wilson said. “If we could move the dial up on the reading, it could make a big difference.”
The reading intervention program ran three days a week for an hour each day at the club sites as students worked on breaking down words, listening to stories and taking turns reading to staff members and other students.
McKinley School unit director Leslie Cabral said she saw the difference the program made with kids as they read through the week, sometimes staying late to finish a book.
“We wanted to help improve their reading skills,” Cabral said. “All the kids worked very hard.”
Wilson said children who participated in the pilot program were tested before and after the reading program, and 100 percent showed an improvement in the three areas of reading skills.
Robert Pane, director of operations at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tracy, said the club wants to expand the reading program next year but needs to raise funds in the community to do so.
“Our goal is to roll this program out for all six sites’ second-grade students,” Pane said. “It is very labor intensive and takes a lot of time, energy and effort.”
Wilson said the pilot program cost $45,000 in materials and staff time for the 40 students. The clubs serve nearly 250 second-grade students at all six sites in Tracy.
The Tracy Police Department donated the computers given to 37 of the 40 students who completed at least 90 percent of the reading intervention program. The computers had been seized in a police raid of an Internet gambling café in May 2013.
Volunteer Brian Castro read the story of the donation in the Tracy Press on Jan. 17 and got the computers ready for the club, formatting them with Windows 7 Pro and Microsoft Office 2010.
Wilson said the long range goal is to include first and grade students in future reading intervention programs.
• Contact Glenn Moore at email@example.com or 830-4252.