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Reading Corps programs address kids who may otherwise slip through the cracks

Logan Monson works on letter sound recognition with Kelsey Moscher, a Reading Corps tutor at Heart of the Lakes Elementary School. Connie Vandermay/FOCUS1 / 2
Logan Monson with Kelsey Moscher, a Reading Corps tutor at Heart of the Lakes Elementary. Connie Vandermay/FOCUS2 / 2

Wrapping up a year of helping Perham kids overcome hurdles to reading, Kelsey Moscher looks back with a sense of accomplishment on her experience as a Minnesota Reading Corps tutor at Perham's Heart of the Lakes Elementary School.

During an interview with Moscher and her literacy coach, Kathy Cavanagh, Moscher said she really enjoyed helping kids become stronger, more confident readers.

Working with kids in kindergarten through third grade, Moscher helped those who may have slipped through the cracks otherwise - kids who benefit from one-on-one reading time but read well enough that they do not qualify for other school literacy programs.

Cavanagh said Reading Corps fills the gap in HOTL reading intervention programs. The program will return to the school next year with an additional part time tutor on top of its full time tutor.

Reading Corps trains tutors on "specific intervention for specific problems," said Moscher. Therefore, the most important part of her job is to identify which skills need to be developed to improve overall reading scores.

Kids come to Moscher for 20 minutes a day, five days a week, where they are given a variety of drills to strengthen their skills. Younger students concentrate on letter and sound recognition, while older kids work on comprehension, speed and correcting pronunciation errors.

Reading Corps is based completely on data: kids are sent for tutoring based on information collected from school-wide assessment tests, and graduate when their personal data shows significant growth. This can take an average of four months, although some have been in and out within a month and others have stayed all year, Moscher said.

Moscher follows certain state standards to help set goals for students. A third grader, for example, should be reading 109 words per minute.

Moscher's reading position is full-time, however there was no cost to the district. Instead, she received a monthly living stipend from Minnesota Reading Corps. Upon completion of her contract, Moscher will also receive funds to be used toward higher education.

Cavanagh said the Reading Corps program has really improved in the last seven years, as the tutors are sent to three-day training sessions in the Twin Cities.

It's also a good experience for tutors, like Moscher, who plan to continue on with careers in education.