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LEAP Helps JPS Increase District Literacy Skills

Something needs to be done about the fact that fewer than one-third of third- through eighth-grade students in the Jamestown Public Schools District are proficient in English Language Arts.

Stopping the summer slide would be a start. “Summer slide” is the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year. The slide is cumulative, meaning that by the time a third-grader who is already struggling gets to high school, the child faces a serious reading deficit.

That’s why the first year of Jamestown’s Learning Enrichment & Academic Progress (LEAP) program is so encouraging. According to a report presented to the Jamestown Public Schools District Board of Education last week, the LEAP program’s first year had 396 children participating regularly, with those 98 percent of those children showing no evidence of a summer slide in their literacy skills.

The program wasn’t just time spent in school over the summer. The LEAP program partnered with the Jamestown YWCA, Jamestown YMCA and Winifred Crawford Dibert Boys and Girls Club so that children received literacy instruction, enrichment activities, field trips, breakfast and lunch. No local tax dollars were used, with the program paid for with federal grants and grants from local foundations.

It will take more than the LEAP program to drastically increase literacy proficiency in the Jamestown Public Schools District, but the program could be a good start. It will be interesting to see if the 98 percent success rate holds true in future years. If it does, maybe the LEAP program should expand with dedicated funding in an attempt to reach more children from both Jamestown and the surrounding area.

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