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Student presents solutions to raise literacy in Colorado

Published: Monday, March 12, 2012

Updated: Monday, March 12, 2012 04:03

Every student awaits the opportunity to apply their skills to a topic they are particularly passionate about, and elementary education major Ciara Peratt has recently received such fortune, for if she performs well before the Colorado governor, she may have changed the lives of countless Colorado children.

In late January, the Chancellor's Leadership Class (CLC) was invited to participate in the annual Colorado Leadership Alliance summit. Among the students invited, junior Ciara Peratt was selected to appear before the lieutenant governor to present solutions for raising the literacy rate of children in Colorado.

The Colorado Leadership Alliance (CLA) is a foundation that serves as a medium between leadership programs at several Colorado universities. The Chancellor's Leadership Class, was invited to participate in this year's CLA summit along with other universities such as CU Boulder, University of Denver and Colorado State University.

Peratt explained that students at the CLA summit split into five different sets of groups, each tasked with a different topic. Peratt was grouped with eight students, all of whom attended other universities, and together, the teams worked to present a solution to growing illiteracy rates in Colorado.

"You have three minutes to share your plan to the judges," explained Peratt, so only an hour and a half after learning her presentation topic, the group had to refine a solution down to just several minutes.

Peratt's group was chosen as the winning presentation from all five groups. Highlighting the merit of their accomplishment, Peratt mentioned that they were competing against some of the brightest minds in Colorado, and so her success not only sets her apart, but it also sets UCCS apart.

The basis of their proposed solution is on third-grade reading statistics. "In Colorado," explained Peratt, "30 percent of kids are not at the third-grade reading level." Statistics for third graders are used as measures for later-developed social stigmas; for example, "If you're not reading in third grade, you are very likely to drop out of high school," explained Peratt.

Turning to other states that have embraced similar strategies to focus on earlier age groups, Peratt and her team modeled their presentation after Michigan's Great Start Readiness Program. The program focuses on supplementary education programs as early as one year before kindergarten.

"We mimicked [our presentation] off of a program that is already proving to be working for children in Michigan," explained Peratt, "so hopefully that will give us a head start into what we want to do with Colorado."

Peratt and her group members have been working diligently to prepare for their trip to Colorado's capital building to present before Lieutenant Governor Joseph Garcia, and after April 20, if chosen, they will have been directly involved in providing a better education for Colorado children.

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