Thursday, February 23, 2006

Reading Thursday: PLOWing Literacy In Tennessee

The State of Tennessee has planted the seeds of a new program designed to encourage more students to read:
A new state program will reward students who devote 30 hours or more to extracurricular reading and student chapters that host literacy events, such as book drives or book fairs.

The Passing Literacy Onward, or PLOW program, was created to promote enthusiasm for reading. This program is sponsored through a partnership with the Tennessee Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom and the Tennessee Association FFA.

“Helping students find the joy in reading is one of the most valuable legacies we can hope to instill in students,” said Lana Seivers, commissioner of the state Department of Education. “Initiatives like PLOW aim to help students discover that joy for themselves.”

The Tennessee Association FFA got involved to help encourage the development of higher literacy skills and expose students to the variety of reading materials. Students in agricultural education classes and FFA chapters earn points for reading to elementary children or mentoring slow or non-readers.

“The PLOW program has allowed students to use their talents and time to make a positive difference in the lives of other people,” said Steven Gass, the state’s agriculture education consultant. “It motivates students to live up to the FFA motto, Living to Serve.”

Other activities eligible for points include reading print or online materials related to agriculture, leadership development, self-improvement, career development or personal growth; taking a reading course or collecting donations for libraries or educational agencies.

PLOW chapters may compete for state recognition for outstanding activism in reading literacy at the annual Tennessee FFA convention in April.
In many rural areas, the high school dropout rates remain stubbornly high. I think that it's great to see a state trying to implement a program that seems designed to primarily appeal to students who live outside the larger metropolitan areas, which have been getting the lion's share of the attention when it comes to increasing students' reading abilities.
See this week's Carnival Of Education right here and our latest education-related posts over there.