LAS VEGAS -- Research shows if students don't read proficiently by the time they enter third grade, their chances of graduating high school drops by 80 percent. And that's why new reading centers, which opened up at "Zoom" schools across the valley Wednesday, are a sign of hope, for both teachers and parents, especially at a campus still trying to make the grade.
One such program launched at Robert Lunt Elementary School.
The first of its kind reading center will help kids who don't speak English as a first language catch up with their peers.
"We need as much support as we can get from any entity," said Principal Thelma Davis, adding as a two-star school, the challenge is evident.
David said many of her students are still struggling on their proficiency tests. But she believes this reading intervention program, which is funded by a $50 million statewide ELL learning initiative, will not only help kids do better in reading and writing, but in other classes as well.
"When every child has strong beginning of language development and a kick start into school that's really going to help," she said.
The reading centers will accommodate 60 students at a time, who will then rotate out every two months after passing an assessment test.
Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky said tracking the progress is key to keep, or even expand, the program.
"We will be working extremely hard to show the legislature in the next session the data behind the positive support that we can do with this money," Skorkowsky said.
Alva Avila's son, Enrique, is a third grader at Lunt Elementary.
Avila said, like many children who speak Spanish at home, he has struggled with reading, so she hopes this extra help at school will make a difference.
"I know that when his books are getting a lot bigger and they are getting a lot thicker then I know he likes reading," Avila said.
Getting kids to like reading, while getting better at it, is the goal behind these new centers now up and running at 14 "Zoom" schools across the valley. Lunt Elementary said they have nearly 70 percent of ELL students on campus.
Davis said the program also helped her school get more money, which allowed them to add teachers and cut down class sizes for some of the grade levels.