New tool to help 3rd graders read

November 20th, 2014

News Coverage:

Published: November 19, 2014 3:00 a.m.

New tool to help 3rd graders read

Part of effort to better education levels by 2025

Jamie Duffy | The Journal Gazette

A new free online reading program designed to aid teachers and tutors of third graders will be introduced Thursday at IPFW.

The reading tool, Follow the Reader, was developed by Project READS for teachers, tutors and other mentors who are helping a struggling reader, said Ryan Twiss, director of the Big Goal Collaborative, an arm of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

Increasing the third-grade reading levels in northeast Indiana is a primary goal of the Big Goal Collaborative. Overall, the organization is working to improve all levels of education by 2025, when its expected that more than 60 percent of jobs in the area will require a four-year degree or education beyond high school.

Educators have concluded that children who are not reading proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school, according to a statement from the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

The reading program was developed through the Big Goal Collaborative's third-grade reading team with online support provided by CVC Communications of Fort Wayne.

The program is based on one developed over the past 20 years by Project READS, Twiss said. It is not directly linked to the state's third-grade standardized reading test known as IREAD-3, he added.

“While it is focused on third-grade reading standards, it is not specifically related to IREAD. This is another way of saying it doesn't teach to the test but rather will help students gain the fundamental skills required not only to pass IREAD but also to grow into strong readers,” Twiss said. “It is based on third-grade reading levels, but it is applicable for any person helping a struggling reader of any age.”

Project READS has been in existence since 1994, providing one-on-one tutoring to after school programs, he said. The program will now be available online in a 10-county region: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley. It has the financial backing of the Big Goal Collaborative, The United Way of Allen County and CVC Communications, Twiss said.

The program is available at the Project READS website,

Thursday's unveiling will be at 5 p.m. at IPFW's Walb Student Union Ballroom. Interviews and event speakers include Twiss, Mike Packnett, CEO of Parkview Health, and Marilyn Moran-Townsend, CEO of CVC Communications.