Plan 500 kids improve scores

The 117 local students who participated in The 500 Plan tutoring program last year improved their reading test scores year-over-year more than other students in their schools.

The 500 Plan is a year-old program that pairs adult volunteers with District 51 students and asks the volunteers to help the children read for an hour each Wednesday after school for one quarter, or nine weeks. The program will resume this year at the start of the second quarter, which begins Oct. 12.

Fourth-graders who participated in the program last year were in the 57th percentile for growth, meaning they made more improvement in their 2011 Colorado Student Assessment Program reading scores compared with their 2010 scores than 57 percent of fourth-graders in Colorado. Other students at the elementary schools that participated in The 500 Plan — Chatfield, Chipeta, Dos Rios, Fruitvale, Lincoln Orchard Mesa, Mesa View, Rim Rock and Rocky Mountain — were in the 48th percentile for growth on 2011 CSAP reading tests.

Fifth-graders who participated in The 500 Plan were in the 55th percentile for growth on CSAP reading scores, while other students at the same eight schools who participated in the program were in the 50th percentile for growth.

Previous year data was not available to make comparisons for third-graders because second-graders do not take CSAP scores.

These results are what members of the Grand Junction Forum had in mind when they created The 500 Plan and launched it last year. The forum is a think tank connected to the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce who passed ownership of the program to chamber-related group Mesa County Business Education Foundation this spring.

“Having measurable results that show improvement prove that time really is the variable in education. It exceeded our expectations of results and community buy-in,” said Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Diane Schwenke.

Last year, 172 people volunteered with the program, which has an eventual goal of attracting 500 volunteers. The goal for this year is to attract 300 volunteers, according to Mesa County Business Education Foundation Chairman Matt Collins.

“The program is working. We need to as a community rally around it,” Collins said.

People interested in volunteering with The 500 Plan can contact the chamber at 242-3214 or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The program will continue to operate on Wednesdays at the same schools as last year, except Lincoln Orchard Mesa will be traded out for Tope Elementary.


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