NIU Literacy Clinic provides tutoring in reading to DeKalb’s Jefferson, Tyler elementary schools

Laurie Elish-Piper
Laurie Elish-Piper

The NIU College of Education’s Literacy Clinic recently was authorized to provide tutoring services to DeKalb public school children who need help with reading, under a provision of the “No Child Left Behind Act” of 2001.

The law stipulates that public schools which have failed to measure up to performance standards for more than one year in reading, language arts or math must provide “supplemental educational services” (SES) to struggling students from families that otherwise would not be able to pay for them.

“NIU’s Literacy Clinic is delighted to be able to offer supplemental educational services in reading to the DeKalb community,” says its director, Laurie Elish-Piper, an NIU Presidential Teaching Professor in Literacy Education. “We strive to provide high-quality services and be a resource for schools, teachers, parents and children.”

Established 40 years ago, the NIU Literacy Clinic, part of the university’s College of Education (COE), offers programs leading to the reading teacher endorsement and the Type 10 K-12 Reading Specialist Certification through the Illinois State Board of Education.

Elish-Piper notes that tutors provided through the clinic – many of them graduates of the COE’s Department of Literacy Education – hold either the ISBE Type 10 K-12 Reading Specialist Certificate or the ISBE Reading Teacher Endorsement. “They must be experienced reading teachers as well,” she adds.

DeKalb Community Unit School District 428 logoDuring the 2012-2013 school year, two of the eight elementary schools in DeKalb Public School District 428 – Jefferson Elementary and Tyler Elementary – fall into what the state of Illinois calls “Academic Early Warning Program Year 2” status, and therefore are required to provide SES to their underachieving students from low-income families.

“I am very happy to see that the NIU Literacy Clinic offers these services,” says Doug Moeller, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for district 428.

“When the district faced budget shortfalls in 2009, after-school tutoring was one of the programs cut,” he adds. “SES helps the schools because the students are able to get services that we as a district could no longer provide because of a lack of funding.”

That the service is available after regular school hours is a boon, too, he says. “We can’t always meet the needs of all our students during the course of a regular school day, so getting these additional services beyond regular instruction is a tremendous asset to the students.”

Moeller notes that parents of eligible students are provided a list of authorized SES providers in the area from which they can select the provider and choose services suitable for their student.

For more information about the Literacy Clinic’s SES program, call (815) 753-1416 or email literacyclinic@niu.edu.

by Eric Johnson

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