Arizona Republic
September 3, 2006

Author: Karina Bland, The Arizona Republic Estimated printed pages: 2

For third-graders at Creighton Elementary School in Phoenix, this is a crucial year. Like all kids their age, if they don't learn to read this year, they may never catch up.

And if children can't read, their science and social studies textbooks are useless to them. Even math is affected, because they can't read word problems or even the instructions.

Kids who do poorly in school end up costing society as they drop out of school and, as grown-ups, work dead-end jobs or even land in prison.

Third grade is the last year they are going to receive instruction in reading.

Creighton student Juan Sotelo worries that if he can't read, he'll never understand all the things he is supposed to learn. Rosario Portillo wants to be a good reader so she can get a good job, like her teacher. It's scary stuff for 8-year-olds who should only be worrying about getting their homework done.

Creighton third-graders are in one of two programs: English immersion, where subjects are taught entirely in English; or dual-language, where students who are already proficient in English also receive instruction in Spanish.

Third-graders take Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards, or AIMS test, for the first time, and their scores will determine if the school receives a passing label. At Creighton, if they fail this year, the principal could lose her job.

The Creighton kids have been tutored and worked with reading specialists.
This year, they'll learn from a new reading program and get an additional 45 minutes of instruction every day.

"We have a lot to learn in third grade," teacher Jessica Barrios told her class on the first day of school. "Let's get started."
Edition: Final Chaser
Section: Front
Page: A18