“A parent who probably didn’t do academically well themselves now has a model to follow. In terms of the kinds of questions to ask, they now have a model to follow [for] how to engage the child,” said Pratt-Dannals. “We think this is going to be a great resource for direct student access after school, on weekends, and holidays—but also it will be a great tool for parents to more effectively take on that [teaching] responsibility.”

The usage is relatively inexpensive, with the technology costing $50 per student, per year. But the cost presented a challenge for the district, which was still reeling from budget cuts.

“Having cut $90 million from our budget, it’s still something at this time we cannot afford [district-wide],” Pratt-Dannals said.

However, businesses and community members throughout the area have donated to the cause, helping to increase the number of students who will receive the TVtextbooks.

For more information on school reading initiatives, see:

Tackling Reading Comprehension Head-On

“We’re already having businesses step and give us $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 to cover a school or at least a number of classrooms within a school,” Pratt-Dannals said.

DCPS plans to enact a 50-unit pilot phase this summer, before expanding the program to 500 students in the fall.

“Read it Forward Jax is a play on ‘pay it forward.’ Somebody at some point taught you how to read, and it was a critical skill for you to be successful, so now you can pay it forward by helping another young person learn how to read so they can be successful in life,” Pratt-Dannals said.