As the new school year begins, 2,000 Central Texas children will be building fundamental literacy skills through a partnership led by The University of Texas at Austin's ACE (A Community for Education) program.
ACE, a program of the College of Natural Sciences' Charles A. Dana Center, is expanding to reach 2,000 children in the 2012-13 school year, which is double the number of students ACE reached last year.
ACE is expanding its mission to improve literacy in the Central Texas area by placing 83 full-time tutors and 24 part-time tutors in more than 20 high-need schools in the Austin and Manor school districts.
"ACE's ambitious vision is that all students in Central Texas become skilled readers before third grade, setting them on a path of excellence in school and in life," said Dr. Mary Ellen Isaacs, director of the ACE program.
"ACE is really turning the tide in reading achievement, and I'm excited that they are expanding their services to reach more of our kids," said Mark Williams, president of the Austin ISD Board of Trustees.
As many as 75 percent of low-income 4- and 5-year-olds in Austin start pre-kindergarten and kindergarten a year or more behind their more economically advantaged peers. Research shows that a child's reading level at the end of the first grade predicts his or her ninth-grade achievement with alarming accuracy. For low-income and minority children, not reading well by third grade means they are four times as likely not to finish high school.
"These data make it clear that we must do everything in our power to ensure that children do not fall behind in their reading skills. With the help of so many in the Austin community, we are privileged to work with our schools partners in helping children get a solid academic start," said Uri Treisman, professor of mathematics and executive director of the Dana Center.
ACE works to close the gap by placing highly trained AmeriCorps tutors in low-income schools to ensure that children in pre-kindergarten through second grade advance to grade level in reading before third grade. Each year, about 75 percent of the students tutored by ACE tutors reach grade level in critical reading skills.
This year marks the first year of a three-year growth plan for ACE, with the goal of helping three times as many students become proficient in reading by 2015. Last year, ACE tutored 1,000 students at 12 low-income elementary schools. By 2015, ACE plans to serve 3,000 students.
This expansion is being made possible by partnerships with the OneStar Foundation, the Austin and Manor school districts, corporate and foundation partners, and generous individual donors.
ACE was recently awarded a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service that will provide funds to hire more than 100 tutors.
For more information about ACE's expansion, visit www.aceaustin.org.