Success Comes Out of Reading Everyday

In 1989, the Big Ten Conference sought an opportunity to help make a difference in the expand and supplement educational opportunities available to children in the Chicago metropolitan area. In January of 1990 the Big Ten Conference partnered with Melody School, an elementary school on the west side of Chicago to begin a recreational reading program in that school.

What began with one school, two grade levels and five classrooms has grown in this its seventh year to include grades two through six, encompassing all classes and 415 students at Melody School. Additionally, Louis Armstrong School, also on the west side of the city, is also a SCORE program participant, with two grades and 145 students participating.

What SCORE is About and What is Achieved by Participation.......

To inspire students to develop a love for reading and to become life-long readers.

One measure of the program's success is the enthusiasm and frequency by which students voluntarily choose to read. Additional goals achieved have been the students' family awareness of the need for reading skills, with active parental involvement in the reinforcement of the program's focus at home. Development and solidifying of a "community" of support for the goals of the program...cross-grade reading partners and literature circles, storytelling and play production. The SCORE program nurtures every aspect of literacy development.

Over the history of the program, activities have been arranged to engender enthusiasm among the students and augment the reading focus.

  • "Kickoff" assembly to motivate students.
  • Career day, to interact with positive role models. To see the connection between reading, writing and study with career goals.
  • Presentations by Urban Gateways, a Center for Arts in Education group in Chicago have become an annual method of bringing books to life for the students. Subjects chosen for these presentations are ones directly linked to current study topics.
  • A spring visit to the Big Ten offices by the top four readers in each program is a culminating activity of the year. Valuable mentoring opportunity. The possibility of being selected to participate in this trip serves as a good incentive to the young readers throughout the school year.
  • Field trips with Big Ten staff: bookstores, libraries, theatre.
  • Literature Circles and Book Talks
  • Writing Projects: Big Ten Pen Pals with Big Ten Staff, 'Young Authors' program
  • Book Reports
  • Plays performed relating to books read
  • Awards Assembly

The program is proven to have a positive impact on the students' academic lives. National test program scores for both Melody and Armstrong have documented solid growth in reading skills over the seven years of the program.

Not measured by test scores: Students showing a sense of pride in their accomplishments...positive attitudes toward academic achievements...building skills for a lifetime for career success and just for the pure enjoyment of the experience.

What people are saying about this program.......

"Consistent with the concept of service learning that is encouraged on campuses, SCORE has been a vehicle for the Conference office and its staff to make a positive difference in the community in which it finds itself. SCORE is a living example of the Conference's increased desire to assert its value for academic priority in the lives of student-athletes, and of providing quality educational opportunities for young people of all races."
- Jim Delany, Big Ten Commissioner

"SCORE has meant so much to our boys and girls. This program has become a part of our school, our communtiy and our students' daily activities. SCORE has brought books into homes that would not have been exposed to such a world of knowledge otherwise. The incentives have been terrific."
- Effie S. Vinson, Principal, Melody School

"The Big Ten is well known for its share of victories in college sports, but perhaps less so for winning the battle of the books on the grade school playing field. But now, thanks to the Big Ten Conference, there is a program that boosts reading achievement like some coaches work on physical prowess."
- Chicago Sun-Times Editorial


Approximately 100 elementary school students from Louis Armstrong Public School in Chicago helped launch the Big Ten's Honoring Legends. Building Leaders. Mobile Tour at the Big Ten office in Park Ridge, Ill., on August 31, 2011. Part of the Big Ten's SCORE program, the students were the first to participate in the mobile tour's activities and to have their pictures taken with the Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy, which made its first public appearance Wednesday morning.

"The Big Ten Conference would like to thank Louis Armstrong Public School for its participation in today's event," Big Ten Chief Communications Officer Diane Dietz said. "We value our partnership with the students and faculty, and were thrilled to have them join us at our tailgate party."

"The Big Ten Conference has been extremely gracious to us over the years," Armstrong principal Demetrius Bunch said. "We have estimated that over 2,500 students have been serviced by the Big Ten over the years, and we would like to thank the Big Ten Conference for their continued support and efforts."