On Thursday, May 11th 2017, the East Moline/Silvis Rotary Club publically rolled out Literacy Is Everyone’s Problem during its weekly meeting.  The Literacy Is Everyone’s Problem program is designed to facilitate and promote enhanced literacy proficiency of 3rd graders within the East Moline and Silvis school districts.  Rotary Club Literacy Chairman Rob’t Greene stated “this program is a collaborative effort between our Rotary Club, our Jr. Rotarians at UTHS, Augustana College EDGE Program and the school districts of East Moline and Silvis.  Our Rotary Club has an aggressive goal to raise up to $52,000 for the purchase of iPads to be used in the classrooms.  Our Rotary Club has pledged the first $12,000 and we have 20 iPads already on order.  Our Rotary Club has always embraced literacy with our many ongoing programs but this iPad program is our biggest commitment to date.  When all children in East Moline and Silvis do not learn to read the effects are immediate, crippling and forever.”   
The East Moline/Silvis Rotary Club was prompted into action based on changing demographics within the school districts.  Consider these current statistics for East Moline/Silvis 3rd graders:
  • 1 in 4 student’s primary language is other than English.
  • 28 different primary languages other than English are spoken.
  • Students not speaking English have increased 227% since 2014.
Couple that with 2016 State funding per student:
  • $7,712/student - average per district.
  • $11,715/student - Winnetka (Chicago suburb).
  • $5,840/student – East Moline.
  • $5,703/student – Silvis.
Greene says “Unbelievable perhaps, but it’s a real problem.”  The architect of the Literacy Is Everyone’s Problem is Sheri Coder, Associate Superintendent for Student Achievement, East Moline School District 37.  Coder, a Rotarian stated “3rd grade is such a pivotal year in developmental reading of our youth.  These iPads allow our teachers to tailor a reading prescription to individual student needs regardless of language background.  The students have more fun learning, learn faster and perhaps family members might also pick up on the reading lessons at home.”
The program will be rolled out in three segments.  A pilot phase begins with the 20 iPads already on order for the summer reading program.  This will allow teachers to become familiar with applications and adapt iPads to individual student abilities using school district supported software.  The next phase is targeted to begin the fall semester with the purchase of 40 additional iPads.  Club President Terry Westbrook added “there are 5 schools being supported by Literacy Is Everyone’s Problem with 380 3rd graders expected in classes this fall.  The initial 20 iPads for summer use must be supplemented with the additional 40 iPads to achieve a student per iPad ratio which will make a truly significant difference in reading ability.  This is an additional $15,000 investment in our schools and children’s future.  Our Rotarians will be working from now until school begins this fall to raise these needed funds from grants, corporate and private sources.”
The final phase consists of the purchase of an additional 60 iPads.  Coder added “the East Moline and Silvis school districts are beginning to add iPads in other grades and our 3rd grade Literacy Initiative fits perfectly, from a timing prospective.”                
Students will continue to be tested at the beginning and end of each school year with the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment.  Greene added, “fall 2016 MAP scores will be used as a baseline by which iPad assisted learning beginning in fall 2017 can be measured.  Intuitively MAP scores should increase.  The student level data will also be helpful for teachers to fine-tune future reading prescriptions in general. The effects of MAP scores in subsequent grades can also be monitored as this baseline class of 3rd graders move through the system.”   
Here are some sobering statistics on how ILLITERACY impacts our community:
  • 2 in 3 students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
  • Students who do not read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade are 4 times more likely to drop out of high schools.
  • 85% of juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, suggesting a close relationship between literacy and crime.
    Literacy can have lasting ramifications on our community. Illiteracy costs the American taxpayers an estimated $20 billion each year.
    The facts are as sobering as they are compelling. 
  • We have a problem.
  • It is getting worse.
  • It is not going away any time soon.
  • School Districts are already budget constrained.
We need to act now!
For additional information on Literacy Is Everyone’s Problem contact  East Moline/Silvis Rotary at eastmoline.silvis.rotary@gmail.com