Parents And Children Make Impressive Learning Gains At Barbara Bush Foundation Family Literacy Programs

Jul 31, 2013, 16:02 ET from Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine, July 31, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Students enrolled in Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy grant programs during the 2012-2013 academic year have made significant progress, according to an independent evaluation. The report was compiled by Ann Bessell, Ph.D., a nationally recognized university researcher with 24 years of experience in the areas of reading and family literacy.

The Program Evaluation Report of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy examined the impact of the 37 funded programs, which provide parents and children the opportunity to go to school together. The programs, in communities across the country, were evaluated for their impact on adult literacy skills, children's literacy skills, family learning activities, student recruitment and retention and other factors. Results show, on average, parents improved approximately 1.6 grade levels in reading in just nine months' time.  In addition, the adults gained 1.7 grade levels in their basic math skills.(Click here for report card details.)

"This is a remarkable achievement when you recognize that most parents enter our literacy programs with just a fifth to sixth grade reading level," said Barbara Bush.  "The bottom line, because of family literacy classes these parents are now better able to help their children with homework, read a school newsletter or figure out a tip at a restaurant. That's been my goal from the beginning– to improve the lives of families through learning."

Nearly 1,000 parents, plus their children, were served during the recent school year at these programs. However, the report also identified for every two families enrolled, another family was placed on a waiting list

"It's our belief that helping people reach their full potential means making sure they have access to quality education programs, whether they are three or 33 years old," stated Jeb Bush, co-chair of the Foundation. "This report reinforces that the programs are making a difference in improving the literacy levels of moms, dads and kids. It also proves just how great the need is when you look at the number of families lining up to learn. Much more must be done by states, communities, and partners to achieve a stronger, more literate nation." 

According to the Evaluation Report, the achievement results for the youngest children enrolled are equally significant.  The number of infants/toddlers showing potential delays in social communication, expressive language, and symbolic functioning (the ability of a child to picture, remember, understand, and replicate objects in their mind that aren't in front of them) dropped dramatically, from nearly 50 percent to 15 percent.

Meanwhile, there were impressive gains in the literacy levels of the preschool children as well. While most began the year at the lowest literacy levels for their age, by the end of nine months, 90 percent tested on par with their peers and were prepared to enter kindergarten ready to excel. Research from the Annie E. Casey Foundation is clear that early reading skills are critical to ensure the long term academic achievement of a student: 88 percent of nonreaders in the third grade are likely to become dropouts.

Contact: Elizabeth Hirst or 850.562.5300

SOURCE Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy