ABOUT US | Table of Contents
Brief Explanation and History
What we do
Who we are
Ignorance of a Social Problem—Illiterate Children-- Affects Every American
Many studies reveal that struggling third grade readers become high school dropouts
The future of a High School dropout is bleak
The affects of High School dropouts on our nation are significant
Fourth Graders: Children Flying Under the Radar or Given Up On
So Far the Return is NOT Good On the Millions of Dollars Poured into Literacy Programs
Ateam’s 2018/2019 Research and Development Phase of Academic Tutoring Includes Two Parts
Part I: Lessons in reading
Part II: Removal of stumbling blocks to reading
AteamBC Supplements Reading with Activities Important to a Child’s Growth and Development
Our activities teach life skills
Athletics and outdoor recreation are significant
Motivation for Consistent Effort and Completion
AteamBC Mission Statement
All kids can read, make friends and behave in school. We guarantee a better life for them.
Our Purpose: to liberate kids from reading barriers and social challenges increasing their personal opportunities in life.
Brief Explanation and History
We are a nonprofit in the Las Vegas area. We work with functionally illiterate kids (mostly beyond 3rd grade), or kids that are having behavior issues as a result of ADHD, etc., that impacts their social life negatively. If a child does not read well by 3rd grade, research shows their chances of dropping out of school increase significantly. Nevada consistently scores in the bottom 5 states in reading (see National Assessment of Educational Progress scores at https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/). AteamBC (our nonprofit) researched this social problem for a year and in 2016 pursued and was granted 501c3 status. We started our afterschool/summer program this year (2019) after another 2½ years of study.
Our first Ateam Reader was in 7th grade, reading at a 1st grade level (DRA 16) when we invited him to be a part of the program (February 2019). After only 3 months his reading score improved as much as it had in eight years of school (DRA up to 30 at his 12 week mark). He is now reading at a 3rd grade level and in one year we are confident that he will be reading at grade level (8th). A school teacher, aware of his progress was beyond amazed and wrote a beautiful testimonial which is posted on our website.
Our unique program addresses reading problems not only at the academic level but where the problem starts: in the brain. Through tests for balance, timing and eye movement it can be determined where brain deficiencies lay that affect reading. We work with a doctor trained in neurological function who advises us in exercise regimens specific and unique to each child. We help Readers turn on brain centers, and make neural connections that help with processing issues, ADHD, autism, FAS, etc. Building neural pathways makes achievement possible: our kids may not even be capable of learning to read well or of increasing awareness of social cues in order to make friends when they come to us. As weaknesses are corrected they become capable of improving reading or social skills!
Ateam’s desire to help hinges on funding for the services we render, which are included in our acronym “AteamBC”: Academic tutoring, engaging activities (and) making Brain Connections. The use of “Cognuro,” an invention by a team of scientists and doctors, has been granted to us. This will allow us to administer our program to more children, provided we have the funding.
Over a million kids drop out of high school each year! (Miller, Tony. "Partnering for Education Reform." U.S. Department of Education. Accessed February 18, 2015.) Often the reason is discouragement due to an inability to read course material and pass classes. Most high school dropouts go on to live in poverty, abuse drugs and go to prison. More of them are depressed and unhappy. Ateam Readers who successfully complete our 6-12 month program can hope for and dream of a future full of opportunity and success.
WHAT WE DO
We liberate kids and youth from reading challenges. Our program offers what is represented in the acronym AteamBC: Academic tutoring, engaging activities, making Brain Connections.
· Academic Tutoring: in reading (ABeCeDarian, Quick Reads, DRA or easyCBM level)
· Engaging Activities: indoor and outdoor active play good for the brain, field trips
· Making Brain Connections: functional neurological assessment and exercise therapy to build neural
pathways that support the ability to read and/or socialize
WHO WE ARE
We are a group of thoughtful, service minded, educated, concerned adults: moms and dads, citizens of the USA, teachers, mentors, former business professionals, and business owners with big hearts for a segment of our population that is overlooked and needs help: kids and youth who struggle to read or are extremely socially challenged (or both).
AteamBC is a service provider seeking to maximize the freedom of individuals to choose their future--one that is contributory to family and society and highly rewarding. We know an ability to read proficiently is vital in pursuing education that opens doors to opportunity.
IGNORANCE OF A SOCIAL PROBLEM—ILLITERATE CHILDREN--AFFECTS EVERY AMERICAN
Social problems are undesirable conditions that people believe should be corrected. We hardly view a third grader who cannot read as a social problem, but in fact they are at risk: they pose a danger to themselves and are a risk of liability to the nation. The inability to read well is truly an undesirable state that needs to be corrected--it affects us all.
Many studies reveal that struggling third grade readers become high school dropouts
Readingpartners.org: “A student not reading at his or her grade level by the end of the third grade is four times less likely to graduate from high school . . . six times less likely [if] from a low-income family.”
A KIDS COUNT Special Report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation 2010: “ …millions of American children get to fourth grade without the ability to read up to grade level and that puts them on a dropout track.”
Research Study entitled Double Jeopardy published in April 2011: [S]tudents who struggled with reading in early elementary school grew up to comprise 88% of those who did not receive a high school diploma. . .
The future of a high school dropout is bleak
With some accuracy we can predict which little third graders will become high school dropouts (those who cannot read up to grade level) With greater accuracy we can predict what the future holds for the 1.2 million (per year) who drop out of high school. Life will, in most cases include drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, no career advancement or even steady job, depression, incarceration, times of homelessness and little opportunity.
New York Times reporter Sam Dillon reporting on a Northeastern University study: . . .male high school dropouts were 47 times more likely than a college graduate to go to jail.
Over 80% of the incarcerated population is high school dropouts.
The affects of high school dropouts on our nation are significant
Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League: “The dropout rate is driving the nation’s increasing prison population, and it’s a drag on America’s economic competitiveness…every American pays…when a young person leaves school without a diploma.”
2009 study by Northeastern University in Boston: There is an undeniable connection between literacy rates, high school dropout rates and crime. The collective cost to the nation over the working life of each dropout is $292,000.
McKinsey & Company: Estimates are that if students . . . had met educational achievement levels of higher-performing nations, then between 1983 and 1998 America’s GDP could have been $1.3- $2.3 trillion higher.
“If all of the dropouts from the class of 2011 had earned diplomas, the nation would benefit from an estimated $154 billion in income over their working lifetimes. (Huff Post, High School Dropout Rates: Causes and Costs, Mathew Lynch, Aug 2, 2012)”
Ignoring or ignorance of this social problem won’t change its negative impact on the child or our country.
FOURTH GRADERS: CHILDREN FLYING UNDER THE RADAR OR GIVEN UP ON
Through third grade a child learns to read, after that he reads to learn. The expectation of reading proficiency is set because it is necessary for progress. It takes understanding and effective reasoning skills to learn the material in grade level appropriate textbooks. A 4th grader (and so on) that cannot read proficiently naturally struggles and is at the mercy of circumstance for any hope of catching up: does he/she have a teacher that will give extra help with reading, someone in their lives that will teach them or hire a tutor, or does the school allow continued enrollment in learning-to-read programs? If not they’re in trouble.
It fouls up the system when a child cannot read well. But system-wide correction of the problem has not yet been figured out. The focus on teaching basic reading skills in the early years doesn’t continue after third grade, at least not as intensely. And really it can’t because by fourth grade a child must focus his time and attention on learning information which prepares him for the next grade. Our current set-up too often leaves a poor reader behind. After a few years they are way behind and become at risk of dropping out of high school.
Some believe that a child who cannot read up to grade level is almost certainly doomed:
“ Once children fall behind, they seldom catch up, a reason that … States … promote early intervention to prevent reading problems. . . Reading failure begins early, takes root quickly, and affects students for life.” (Louisa Moats, When Older Students Can’t Read, 2002)
Fortunately in her article, Ms. Moats also cites examples of older children learning to read when adults spend regular, significant, focused time filling in the gaps students missed along the way.
Every able-bodied child can learn to read well and qualifies for the chance to do so. AteamBC works with a population that, for the most part, is going unnoticed or given up on.
SO FAR THE RETURN IS NOT GOOD ON THE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS POURED INTO LITERACY PROGRAMS
We, the people paying for government spend (use up) copious amounts of money on early childhood literacy programs when what we mean to do is invest (employ money to receive a return of greater value). Unfortunately the return has not been nearly as good as hoped for. Pre-K to 3rd grade children have been deluged with reading programs in an effort to make sure they achieve proficiency (reading at or above grade level) Millions and millions of dollars spent on early childhood reading programs is a strong statement of value and priority. No wonder we focus on this because arguably reading is the most important skill a child learns.
But still the majority of kids in our schools do not read proficiently as shown by the report card to the nation issued in 2017 by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Results include: 35% of 4th grade children in this country can read at or above grade level (so 65% cannot). In Nevada even fewer can read: only 31% are proficient. In 8th grade – only 28% in Nevada read at or above the level of proficiency.
(Insightful information on cost effectiveness analysis of early reading programs can be found at - https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19345747.2015.1055639)
ATEAMS’S 2018/2019 RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PHASE
OF ACADEMIC TUTORING INCLUDES TWO PARTS
Part I: Lessons in reading
Our tutoring focus is reading. During the summer months of 2018 Ateam’s reading specialist tutored three struggling readers using a curriculum taken from three research-based, effective basic reading programs (Phono-Graphix, ABeCeDarian and Quick Reads) The programs were searched and studied by AteamBC’s founder and put together by our reading specialist who has a Master of Science degree in Education and background in teaching elementary school and the creation of online learning programs.
The children, one girl and two boys were assessed at the beginning of the summer using a standardized reading test used to determine a student’s instructional level in reading called the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA). After 8-10 weeks they were re-assessed.
Through these first months of tutoring we got a feel for pacing lessons and take-a-ways include: best length of time for a tutoring session (30-40 minutes depending upon child), the kids could move through the material faster in one on one sessions than small groups, struggling readers need help choosing level appropriate books to read, a more focused fluency and comprehension component for our tutoring program would be helpful, etc. Most significant is the realization that tutoring alone is not enough (especially for some kids)
Part II: Removal of stumbling blocks to reading
Because most children and youth in America are no strangers to basic skills reading programs and yet still do not read proficiently, besides lessons in reading children need their blocks to reading removed. Creating an effective, permanent and timely solution to a student’s reading struggles necessitates tutoring and therapy.
In the last quarter of 2018 some academically struggling youth in the Las Vegas area (Boulder City and Henderson) between the ages of 9 and 15 were identified and considered for participation in part II of our development phase of academic tutoring—Functional Neurology (FN). The purpose of FN is to remove personal stumbling blocks to reading.
In early 2019 a young teen was chosen from Boulder City to go through our program: An interview, tutor assessment and DRA were administered in January and early February. In mid February the student received his neurological evaluation and functional neurology exercises. His participation in the full program commenced after his evaluation in both functional neurology, grade level reading score (DRA) and tutor level testing.
(** For progress see Results, page 8)
With the incorporation of functional neurology we have an objective measure of brain dysfunction and increased potentiality of achieving excellent results in wiping out a student’s reading struggles or socialization issues. Through therapeutic exercises that stimulate specific areas in the brain, dysfunction is corrected so ability increases.
The brain controls nearly every aspect of the body. Functional neurology assesses and applies functional therapies to improve (or even eliminate) neurological disorders such as autism, ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, OCD, anxiety, depression, issues with processing and so on. The power of neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to change and adapt) allows the formation of new pathways in the brain which means making desirable corrections possible at any age.
A brand new technology tool for brain assessment (called Cognuro) will soon be available, allowing us to assess and pursue individualized functional neurology exercises with a large group of students. Our first student, from February 2019 was evaluated by a Dr. and given a set of functional neurology exercises that accomplish the same thing that Cognuro (CGN) will. Ateam is extremely fortunate to be the only program in Nevada given the opportunity to use CGN at this time. The CGN Kit has two parts—the Look piece, and the Move or gait piece. It was developed by a team of doctors and scientists highly skilled in technology and neurology. The CGN kit is a powerful, expensive tool that tests a person’s timing, balance and eye movement. Results of the tests go through an algorithm that creates an individualized set of exercises geared to a student’s specific deficit. Exercise therapy works (stimulates) the brain in a most beneficial way for them. An effective way of getting a child or teen to exercise their brain several times a day is to keep the sessions short (5-7 minutes) and make them fun. Cognuro is akin to playing a video game where advancement to different levels is engaging.
Interesting note: analyzing the efficiency of eye movement is key: the visual system is the only sensory system (there are 21) that activates every part of the brain.
Once an assessment identifies areas of concern in the brain an appropriate stimulus will be used to strengthen and rehabilitate. Improving brain function is very similar to improving strength. If you want to build muscle, you lift weights (a stimulus). If you want to build a neural pathway, you provide the appropriate stimulus (brain exercises). Doing this strengthens and in some cases reprograms a brain (makes new neural connections). It takes 3-4 months of daily practice for the brain to make permanent change and sometimes a year to complete our program. A course of action individualized to each student outlines the exercises they will need to do consistently to create lasting change. Ateam staff and our program take students to completion of their exercises which clears up deficits in reading centers in the brain. With improved ability to learn to read, tutoring in a multi-sensory program is highly successful.
ATEAMBC SUPPLEMENTS READING WITH ACTIVITIES
IMPORTANT TO A CHILD’S GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
“Young children need regular, vigorous, physical activity—active play—to develop and grow properly. Active play strengthens bones, muscles and the brain and establishes connections between all of them. A physically active lifestyle is crucial for life-long health and physical and emotional wellbeing.” www.cbc.ca/parents/learning/view/why-active-play-is-so-important)
Combining fun with teaching gives kids/youth a best case scenario for learning. An afterschool/summer schedule is hard to face if it is seen as an extension of school. Keeping students engaged in the program is necessary for successful completion of functional neurology therapy and reading lessons. We combine fun with our main focus on reading through engaging activities of all kinds.
Our Activities Teach Life Skills
Our activities are geared to the students (Readers) we’re working with. We study out ideas for possible incorporation in our program. Short brain bursts such as field trips, basic music lesson, dance, cooking, hand-eye coordination activities such as the Purdue Peg Board and ping pong and jump rope and Lummi sticks, using balance boards, rendering community service and even entrepreneurial ventures have all been studied and considered. All of these give experience that builds the brain and life skills.
For example, there is much that can be learned from an entrepreneurial project such as-
1) Awareness of opportunity: Solutions to a problem begin with an idea and desire
2) Courage (to try new things)
3) Self-reliance and taking responsibility
4) Through something simple--planning and setting goals-- great things happen
5) Get help from others who have or know what you don’t because teamwork is vital to success
6) Persistent effort pays off, work is rewarding, accomplishment feels great: Giving up gets you nowhere
We take field trips on occasion: e.g. library, tour rock crushing plant, aquarium, museum, ice cream shop.
Athletics and outdoor recreation are significant
Participation in athletics or any active leisure is rewarding and one is more ready to read and learn when play is a regular part of life. We all emerge from participation in active play better athletes and better people (even when we are not particularly “athletic”). We expose minds and bodies to a few of the countless opportunities for the enjoyment of recreation which fuels creativity and de-stresses academic learning.
“Play is important for the emotional, social, cognitive, and physical development of children. In addition to being critical for general health [for kids, teens and adults] . . . play develops life skills for children and communication skills . . . (The Atlantic, Recreational Play Can be Far More Important than Academics, Esther Entin, Jan 16, 2012)”
MOTIVATION FOR CONSISTENT EFFORT AND COMPLETION
Rewards are motivating. Reading for pleasure (or by assignment) is rewarded with a point system that keeps kids and teens coming back for more. These are based on consistent effort and completion of reading/writing tasks. Rewards at variable intervals are the most effective way of keeping motivation high, according to psychological studies on schedules of reinforcement. Besides a weekly activity of Reader’s choice, meeting certain point totals earns the Readers a reward.
We have popular books to choose from that we give away to our Readers when they complete Ateam. Our intention is to offer an ultimate reward for completion of the program—an opportunity to apply for a post high school education scholarship when Readers stay in school, get good grades and earn a high school diploma. This will be implemented as funding becomes available.
Vision EMPLOYEE STRUCTURE
Fulltime Staff (hired as funding is available—flexible)
CEO/Executive Director (currently, founder AteamBC)
General Responsibility: Oversight of all operations of business/marketing and fundraising | President of Board of
Directors | Reports to Board | Success of Readers through tutoring, activities and functional neurology
Director of Cognuro
Part Time Staff
Degree in education and ability to administer and understand tests that assess reading levels. Responsible for academic tutoring of students, and effectively teaching mentors how to use AteamBC’s tutoring methods.
Technology Specialist (+ social media marketer)
The following results are reported on our website-- www.ateambc.org . Please go there for more information
"Joshua has been working with Diane to help him do better in school. She has done research and found an amazing program that individualizes to the needs of the child. She works with him 5 days a week on her own time, with her own funds to help my little man and the difference is amazing. He has improved in many aspects, and not just academically but also socially. If you are looking for a great thing to support this is it. Joshua is the test case and she is hoping to expand to help many others who struggle in school."
On February 13th Joshua was tested using the DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment). We discovered that his “independent” level is 14 and his “instructional” level is 16. That puts his reading at an end of first grade level. We had no idea he would test so low. Getting him to proficiency beginning here is a challenge, to say the least.
DRA = 16
ABC portion score = Level B1
RR score = 67.6
On the 22nd of February, after a week of functional neurology therapy with brain exercises Joshua was given the tutoring assessment again. He went from a score of 67.6 to 75.9 on the RR score. He moved one level forward on the ABC evaluation. This was with “no” academics whatsoever. His brain is taking off.
POST : March 28, 2019
JOSHUA -- A MIRACLE
DRA = 24 (up from level 16, six weeks ago)
Next week we add “reading” to Joshua’s program, along with his functional neurology exercises. Without any tutoring in reading the DRA score (above) says alot but the following testimonial says it all--
What a miracle! It has been my great pleasure to have literally witnessed a reading miracle in the last month. Six weeks ago I observed a test being given to Joshua to assess his reading level. He was lethargic and using his finger to track as he would read each passage, word by word. Some of the testing seemed laborious to him and there was no expression whatsoever. It was apparent through his words and his body language that he did not feel confident reading out loud at all.
For the past 6 weeks, Diane has worked night and day with Joshua doing exercises 5x a day to improve tracking, focus, balance and timing. I have spent time tutoring him once a week in writing and phonics (no reading). When I re-tested this student, in the very same location and at the very same time, Diane and I could not believe our eyes.
Joshua was swinging around on his chair as he read each word, animated and alive, using a British accent and questioning each sentence as he read, making comments that the material was completely wrong. His confidence was unbelievable! He was soaring! We were STUNNED! Was this the same boy?
Not only was he reading and retaining, but he was exhibiting very little effort to read the passages and quite enjoying showing off. We immediately bumped him up to the next level and tested again with the same results. It was a miracle! I have been teaching for 28 years and have never seen a student make such drastic strides in such a short time as I did today.
This program is amazing! Not only has Joshua’s reading improved, but the success has crossed curriculums into other school subjects: he claims his ability to feel the beat and keep time in his music class has improved, something he seemed incapable of before. I'm not sure that I would believe this if I hadn't seen it myself! Hats off to Diane and her dedication to a wonderful program which is changing lives for good!
3rd Grade Teacher
Martha P. King Elementary School
POST : May 9, 2019
JOSHUA -- The Miracle continues
DRA = 30 (up from level 24, six weeks ago)
Joshua continues to show progress in so many ways! We were extremely grateful to find that his reading level took a jump again. Quoting an observer that knew Joshua before we began the program and has regular contact with him now:
“Joshua’s confidence has greatly improved since participating in Ateam. He continues to progress notably and I have personally seen a remarkable improvement in positive attitude and ability to speak with those he does not know well.”
We will soon be entering the summer months where schedules will make regular participation more of a challenge. But Ateam has a plan for that. Joshua will continue to do his functional neurology exercises every day (5 sets), as well as read and write, balance, and practice tutoring skills flashcards.
We look forward to the time we test him again (six to eight weeks from now: end June—first July) because we know all kids can READ. We will not give up on them.
POST: February 20, 2020
JOSHUA’S ONE YEAR MARK AND WE HAD TO SAY “THANK-YOU!”
I mentioned in my last post (on website and facebook, Feb. 6, 2020) that Joshua would take another reading comprehension test soon. He did last week (this time 8th grade level). Last week was his one-year mark for participation in Ateam. He scored 70% taking it silently and then a few days later he read the 3 ¼ page text to me out loud. We read the questions that followed out loud and since he corrected 2 of his former incorrect answers (without help), he got a score of 90%! Yesterday we delivered and mailed one-year-anniversary “thank-you” notes to people who have donated to this young man’s amazing progress … success! When people make donations, they don’t always know exactly where the money goes but I wanted our donors to share in the joy of this miracle so I let them know that they have been instrumental in changing a life forever—this young man’s whole world, and his family. I just HAD to tell them!! I think it was good for Joshua to see that so many care about him and he seemed very pleased that I was spreading the word that “he is amazing: he can read!”