Today, Jacqueline is a bright and curious 2nd grader at United Community Center’s (UCC) Bruce-Guadalupe Community School (BGCS) who enjoys writing, reading and going to the library, a very different student from when she started school.
When Jacqueline entered first grade at BGCS she was reading below grade level. Growing up in a primarily Spanish-speaking home, Jacqueline’s parents say she struggled when it came to asking questions and translating Spanish to English.
“I think Jacqueline’s hardest thing was being able to talk about books. She could read the words, but the comprehension is what she struggled with most.” said Ms. Lynch, her first grade teacher.
The City of Milwaukee has the greatest minority-white student achievement gap in the US with 42% of Hispanic children under 5 living in poverty and a 25% reading gap between Caucasian and Hispanic Elementary school students. In 19% of households a language other than English is the primary language spoken, making literacy a core issue among this population. (American Community Survey, Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam)
United Way is working to change this statistic, in 2004 they started investing in the United Community Center Leyendo Juntos program, which improves children’s literacy skills by having them work on language boosting activities inside and outside the classroom.
Jacqueline and her dad began going to the library regularly and she read books to her parents every night. In the classroom, Jacqueline worked with her teachers to improve her comprehension and every Friday read a book with a 4th grade student to improve her listening and reading skills.
“Proficiency in 3rd grade reading is a major indicator for future academic success of a student. United Way is working to close the achievement gap by investing in programs that offer in school and out of school opportunities for all students. By offering the highest quality support to struggling students, our partner agencies are helping kids get back on track to academic success,” says Tim Coughlin, Education Portfolio Manager at United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County.
Last year, 91 % of children who were part of the Leyendo Juntos program had developmental improvement in their literacy skills.
Today, Jacqueline is not only confident and speaking English fluently but is reading at grade level thanks to United Way. “Jacqueline had the determination and desire to be a solid reader,” said Ms. Lynch.
Her father says not only is Jacqueline excited about going to school, she knows want she wants to do when she grows up. “She told me she wants to be a teacher”, her father said.