AU hopes to improve literacy rates with new center

Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 6:46 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A day after Augusta University opened its new literacy center at the HUB for Community Innovation, we’re learning more about how it’s going to help local students.

According to data from AU, only about 30 percent of kids in Richmond County are reading on grade level by the end of their 3rd-grade year.

They have books, computer areas, and even courses to help improve literacy throughout the community. These resources aren’t just for students; adults can also use them.

Lakeisha Armstrong is sharing her love of reading through a book club. She has seen the impact of not being able to read firsthand.

“My mom is part of the program. She has always had trouble reading,” said Armstrong, literacy center book club founder.

She says since starting the book club, she’s already seen growth from members of the group.

“We have gotten through the first three chapters, and her fluency with reading these chapters is better and also just understanding the context,” she said.

Leaders at the literacy center say not being able to read has impacts beyond having trouble in the classroom.

AU Literacy Director Dr. Betsey Vandeusen said: “Literacy really changes life trajectories, and if you don’t read well by the end of third or fourth grade, you’re more likely to be incarcerated. You’re more likely to not finish high school, and certainly, it curtails some of your life opportunities.”

She says right now, data shows only 30 percent of third graders in the area read on grade level. For high schoolers, she says only about half read on grade level.

But she’s hoping this center will change that.

“That’s why we serve the students most in need here at the center to make sure that we’re accelerating learning where it needs to be,” she said.

She says no matter the age, they’re working to give people more opportunities.

Armstrong says playing a role in that is a dream come true.

“If you can read and understand things, you can grow,” she said.

Students needing access to these services will be recommended through their schools. And adults can contact the literacy center for more information.