A woman reading a book

Family participation is a key factor in reading success, according to results of a 10-year longitudinal study. Examining standardized test scores of students, aged 6 to 10, those who participated in the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ (LEH) PRIME TIME Family Reading Time program performed better in all areas.

The longest-running, outcomes driven, humanities-based family literacy program in the nation brings together parents and children for six or eight week family literacy programs in partner schools, libraries and community centers.

Besides providing families with meals, transportation and onsite childcare to make it convenient to participate in the program (and to ensure a high program retention rate), specially trained storytellers and scholars engage students and families in a high-quality learning experience that reinforces the importance of reading and critical thinking.

In tracking the progress of students who participated in the program from the 3rd grade through the graduation exit exams, the independent study found that not only did PRIME TIME students outperform their non-PRIME TIME peers on standardized tests in reading comprehension and language arts, they also did better in all of the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and math).

That’s proof positive that the family learning experience, focusing on the basics of reading, combined with open-ended questioning and analysis, can have a significant impact and potential for changing the life trajectories of children – particularly those from at-risk families. In 2012, Shell supported the PRIME TIME program across Louisiana, as well as in several other Gulf South states, via the multi-year “Shell-LEH National Gulf States PRIME TIME Initiative.”

Additionally, Shell’s funded the development of the LEH’s new teacher professional development program, “PRIME TIME HomeRoom,” that translates the proven strategies for successful engagement and learning with families into custom-designed curriculum and training modules that K through 4th grade educators can implement in their classrooms.

Already endorsed by the Louisiana Department of Education, PRIME TIME HomeRoom will be piloted in a Louisiana school district this fall, with plans to initially expand statewide, and then eventually to other states supported by Shell in this path-breaking educational partnership.

For more information on the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, go to www.leh.org/

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