Program addresses Moffat County’s literacy problem
November 1, 2001
BY JOSH NICHOLS
Daily Press writer
In a 1992 literacy survey, 800 adults in Moffat County were found to read at a level below an average seventh grader.
To combat this situation, the Read for Life Adult Literacy Service was developed using a combination of funding from Colorado Northwestern Community College, the United Way and local fundraising efforts.
Karen Ekstrom, Read for Life coordinator, held a forum with eight local representatives Thursday afternoon to decide how Read for Life can be better promoted to reach those who need it in the community.
The Read For Life information brochure states that many Moffat County residents can’t understand the label on a prescription, fill out a job application or help their children with homework.
“At this time we’re seeing pretty low usage of the program,” Ekstrom said.
Representatives at the forum included people from Moffat County school district, the Craig Rotary Club, CNCC Developmental studies and the Independent Life Center.
During the forum, representatives discussed ways to promote the program among students at Moffat County High School.
The reason, Ekstrom said, is because CNCC sees numerous students who come to college with the skills necessary to achieve in many subject areas, but lack the reading skills necessary to do so.
“That’s why we’re talking about working more with the high school,” she said.
Read For Life offers one-on-one tutoring, a 160-hour phonics video program and a beginning readers class for anyone older than 16 who reads below a seventh grade level.
Katy Gray, the reading specialist at MCHS who works with students who have reading deficiencies, had a theory on why many young people with reading problems get frustrated and lose their drive to learn.
“They’ve become hardened and angered at a system that always awards students who can read well,” Gray said. “What is the motivation for these students?”
Bill Muldoon, a retired Craig resident who represented the Craig Rotary Club at the forum, has worked with adult literacy programs in other communities.
He said it is important to keep young people aware that the program is available, because often times they find out later that they need it.
“Kids begin to get the incentive when they can’t fill out a job application,” he said. “In Sterling we had kids who would come after a bad experience in the work force.”
He also said that the army is not even an option for people with severe reading deficiencies.
“It almost became like an alcoholic situation where they finally had to come ask for help,” he said.
Gray agreed with Muldoon.
“I see them having to go out and have to find work and not like where they’re at,” she said.
Sheila Harper with CNCC developmental studies, stressed the program is not just for kids who want to go to college.
The one-on-one tutoring and beginning readers class is for any adult who reads below a seventh grade level.
“The program isn’t just for kids going on to college,” she said. “Maybe it’s someone who’s watching campaign coverage on television and wants to vote.”
Ekstrom said the next step will likely be to organize a meeting between the high school and college.
They will formulate a plan on how to inform students on what “Read for Life” has to offer.
“If a student has a reading disability but is still capable of going to college this is a good first step,” said Jan Rogers with CNCC developmental studies.
For those interested in more information about the Read for Life program, call Karen Ekstrom at 824-1125.