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Local Champaign-Urbana tutoring programs aims aid elementary academic success

Unit 4's Garden Hills Elementary School in Champaign.

URBANA – The iRead and iCount programs provide tutoring for kindergarten and first-grade students who are having difficulties with their math and reading skills.

The Champaign Unit 4 School District and Urbana School District 116 are benefiting from the programs. iRead and iCount volunteers spend one hour a week working with students over a two-month period.

Studies have shown that students who are not reading at grade level by the third grade will struggle with the rest of their time in school.

Melissa Cisneros is a volunteer mentor coordinator. She said the pandemic interfered with learning.

“Students having to try to learn via digital methods, via Zoom, whatnot, it’s just it’s a difficult thing for teachers to try to bridge the gap with the education that the students have received over that amount of time,” said Cisneros.

Tony Sanders is the Illinois state superintendent of Education. He said poverty and learning a second language, such as English, makes it difficult for students to achieve success.

“So, when you look at results, you have to put it into the context of the local school district and the data,” said Sanders. “Not just are the students performing well, but how does it, you know, what is the makeup of their students? And what are they doing at a local level to meet those student needs?”

Sanders said he encourages family members to be involved in their children’s education. He that talking to school board members, and superintendents or joining any parent-teacher organizations are some of the ways to be involved.  

“Then also just take an active role in your children’s lives. Always being a role model for lifelong learning is a great thing for kids to be able to see,” Sanders said.

Picture of Luis Velazquez-Perez

Luis Velazquez-Perez

Luis Velazquez- Perez recently earned a B.S. in Journalism with a minor in Latina/Latino studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is now pursuing his Master's in Journalism. Aside as an intern at Illinois Newsroom, Velazquez-Perez has written for The Daily Illini, Cicero Independiente and C-U CitizenAccess. He aspires to be a bilingual public radio journalist

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