The Neighborhood Longhorns Program (NLP), established in 1991, is an educational incentive program operated in partnership with the Austin Independent School District (AISD) in 18 Title 1 elementary and middle schools. Since its inception, 1000's of UT students have tutored and mentored 1000's of Austin children, helping them earn in excess of $500,000 in NLP scholarships throughout the years. The major objectives of the program are to:
- Improve overall grade performance
- Improve reading, math, science, and language arts skills;
- Increase student retention rates; and
- Provide scholarships for students to obtain a college education.
The program serves economically disadvantaged youth in grades 3 through 8 who are at higher risks of experiencing academic difficulties, including low grade performance, low performance on tests, low school attendance and higher rates of dropping out of school. Services are tailored to each school based on the school's TAKS scores and overall district report card rating. An academic plan is developed for each student by the teacher and the program coordinator based on diagnostic testing, the student's report card, and their individual TAKS scores.
Improving Academic Performance
The primary objectives of the Neighborhood Longhorns Program (NLP) are to encourage self-discipline, promote enthusiasm for learning and increase student success. The NLP presents tangible incentives to the students to better their individual achievement for each grading period over the course of the academic year.
Diagnosing and Intervening
All schools participating in the Neighborhood Longhorns Program administer diagnostic exams to determine the student's "Individual Reading Level." The tests, administered by teachers, are given at the beginning and at the end of the academic year. The school selects one of three available standardized tests: the Qualitative Reading Inventory, the Individual Reading Inventory or the Reading Objective Inventory.
Participating schools use two computer-based reading programs designed to improve student reading performance, Accelerated Reader or Electronic Bookshelf. Students using Accelerated Reader are required to select a book from a designated book list appropriate for their reading level. The students take a computerized exam to test their reading comprehension. The students earn reading points based on the book's point value, length, difficulty, and the number of correct answers.
Students using Electronic Book Shelf are required to read a book on their reading level. Students are tested on different pages of the book to measure reading comprehension. Each student receives a progress report at the end of each grading period.
Providing Educational Incentives
Prize sessions are held at each school immediately following a grading period. University of Texas athletes from the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics for Men and Women, along with head coaches, university staff and community leaders, present the prizes to the students. In addition to winning prizes at each grading period, NLP participants are invited to attend football games, men's and women's basketball games, volleyball and baseball games, and university and community cultural events.
Earning Scholarship Opportunities
Each NLP participant who meets or surpasses all of the program requirements over the entire school year receives a $100 college scholarship award that is deposited in a bank. All scholarship funds remain in the account until the student graduates from high school.
For more information please visit http://nlp.utexas.edu.