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Pandemic Rebound: BW professor 'PREPs' Cleveland students for reading success

Making up for lost time in the classroom, students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) are hard at work this summer, hoping to reclaim learning opportunities lost in the pandemic.

Jeannie VotypkaOne element of CMSD's COVID-relief-funded "Summer Learning Experience" is a tool that inspires emerging readers to grow their skills and love of reading. The Primary Reading Engagement Program (PREP) was designed by Baldwin Wallace University education professor Jeannie Votypka.

Rewards and results

Votypka developed PREP as a reading specialist in the Lakewood City Schools, and her resulting doctoral research on the impact of the program was recently published in the Journal of Teacher Action Research and featured on News 5 Cleveland.

"PREP is a powerful program that motivates primary struggling readers to read daily through book choice, contingent reward (meaning a reward related to reading), reading frequency and parental involvement," Votypka explains. "My research shows PREP has a positive impact on students' reading achievement, reading motivation and reading self-concept."

Cleveland innovation connection

PREP reading program materialsVotypka shared PREP during Accelerate Cleveland's 2020 pitch competition in the "Educating for Tomorrow" category.

While she didn't win, PREP caught the attention of one of the judges, Eric Gordon, CEO of CMSD. They met and made plans to implement PREP during the second of two four-week Summer Learning Experience sessions.

Under the program, nearly 700 Cleveland kindergartners will receive four books to take home this summer, while PREP will train teachers and parents to promote consistent reading at home.

Verifying outcomes

Votypka plans to conduct a formal academic research study on PREP outcomes within CMSD during 2021-22 to replicate her earlier research with even more students.

The hope is not only to help students catch up but to propel their reading skills forward to a successful academic year. Votypka also hopes to bring PREP to more school districts in the future.

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