MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County School District has found an unlikely ally in the fight to improve student reading abilities: Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.
Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has partnered with the school district to bring a hybrid online teaching model called BookNook to more schools.
BookNook provides live interventions, reading support and remote tutoring for students. By expanding into the schools, BookNook hopes to improve literacy skills and minimize the "COVID slide."
SCS has been working to improve literacy skills after testing revealed that 75% of 3rd graders cannot read proficiently.
Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare got involved saying literacy skills are a health concern.
"We know that health is not just what happens at a hospital but that there are a lot of social and emotional components that go into health and one of those is literacy," Rev. Dr. Stacy Smith, the MLH Director of Center of Excellence and Faith and Health Equity, said.
Smith said literacy concerns can have lifelong health impacts.
"The ability to read your prescription to read and comprehend exactly what your nurse or someone else is telling you to do, if you are behind, in your literacy levels, even as a child, that can have a direct impact on your health outcome," she said. "That’s why Methodist really sees literacy as a health issue as one of those social determents of health that has a strong impact.”
Smith said they've expanded the BookNook program into 40 Shelby County schools and 35 after-school programs, congregations and charter schools.
According to BookNook, a pilot test with SCS, funded by the CARES Act, was done in April of 2020 that showed promising results.
"Among the 417 students in the pilot, average projected reading growth increased nearly four times over, with progress measured against a full year of traditional instruction, effectively reversing “Covid slide", a release read.
BookNook is available for students from kindergarten through 5th grade. A release said a minimum of 3,000 students will receive help.