Literacy program partnership formed

June 30, 2016

Pflugerville ISD and the Pflugerville Education Foundation have announced a partnership with The University of Texas’ Charles A. Dana Center to establish an early childhood literacy intervention program at two elementary campuses.

PfISD and the Foundation have set aside $60,000 for the expansion of the Dana Center’s A Community for Education (ACE) literacy program into the school district during the upcoming 2016-17 school year. It will be implemented at Delco Primary School and River Oaks Elementary School.

“We’re thrilled about our new partnership,” said Dr. Annette Villerot, PfISD assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. “Our goal in PfISD is to have all students reading on grade-level by third grade. Together with ACE, we move toward that objective.”

“We are very excited to work with Pflugerville ISD on our shared goal of setting all students on a path of success in school and life,” said Dr. Mary Ellen Isaacs, ACE director. “Literacy is key to this success – and we know that early intervention works. We are proud and excited to be invited to support this work in PfISD, and look forward to helping more students discover the magic of reading.”

The program will provide ACE AmeriCorps tutors working full-time at the pair of schools. They’ll work to advance the reading levels of identified kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade students at those campuses throughout the school year. Students remain in the program until they master necessary reading skills.

Students receive daily one-on-one, up to 30-minute lessons created to suit individual reading levels. Tutors – each provided with 70-80 hours of literacy training – are expected to work intensively with approximately 120 students in the coming school year.

“The one-on-one setting allows students to focus on the five components of literacy and to hone in on those specifics skills students struggle with,” said Dr. Villerot. “So not every student will receive the exact same strategies: it is tailored to each individual child’s needs.”

The ACE program, established in 1994, has been in partnership in Central Texas with Austin and Manor school districts, as well as Wayside Charter Schools. It served more than 2,200 students at 32 elementary schools in the 2015-16 school year.

“The Pflugerville Education Foundation is pleased to partner with PfISD in bringing the ACE AmeriCorps literacy intervention program to two Pflugerville elementary schools,” said Cameron Howard, Foundation board president. “Our commitment of $25,000 will ensure that more Pflugerville students are able to read and are prepared for the next grade level.”

Schools in the program qualify for additional federal support due to high concentrations of economically disadvantaged students. In the 2015-16 school year, over 80 percent of ACE students were considered economically disadvantaged, according to demographic data provided by Texas Education Agency.

Additionally, national studies have shown that if students cannot read at grade-level by third grade, they will become four times as likely to drop out of school, as noted by a study conducted by The Annie E. Casey Foundation in 2013.

The literacy program aligns with recent PfISD efforts to strengthen early childhood development. The district has expanded its full-day pre-kindergarten program through a $464,000 grant and seeks to grow its certified literacy interventionist base through Neuhaus Education Center training sessions available to faculty.

The Charles A. Dana Center is an organized research unit of the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin.

ACE is supported by individuals and grants from foundations, corporations and governmental bodies. It does not receive operating funding from UT.

ACE tutors are AmeriCorps members serving in national service positions. AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, an independent federal agency whose mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. Since the program’s founding in 1994, almost 1 million AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1.2 billion hours in service across America.

Delco Primary is located at 12900 Dessau Road, in the eastern sector of PfISD. River Oaks Elementary is at 12401 Scofield Farms Drive, in the western part of the district.