The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

I want to discuss an effort that I believe has so much potential, every Readingnite should know about it. On December 19, 2011 The Collective held a discussion on the potential of Reading winning the All-American award. The Award is given out to ten cities that put together a package to address  certain issues in their communities. This year theme revolves around 3rd grade reading levels. You might ask why specifically is the group focused on 3rd grade reading levels. Well, let me learn you something today. Educational research has predicted that depending on the proficiency of students’ reading ability, students who do not read at grade-level are more likely not to graduate high-school, land themselves in jail, and continue the cycle of poverty in their generation.

By the 4th grade 74% of students will not catch up to their more affluent classmates. The committee has identified three main reason why low-income students, which is mainly composed of minorities, are lagging so far behind their middle class counter-parts. The three reasons are:

Readiness Gap

Attendance Gap

Summer Slide

These key problems are the key themes that this collective group has been challenged to tackling. Let’s break down some stats on each point so that you have a better idea of why these three themes were chosen.

The Readiness Gap: One-fifth of all children under the age 6 live in poverty. Children from these families are twice as likely to tart school with limited language skills. Studies have shown achievement gaps between low-income and High-income students exist as early as kindergarten. Another study concluded that in the first years of life, low-income students hear 30 million fewer words than Higher-income students. By the time both the proficient reader and the non-proficient leader have reached the 5th grade, the proficient reader is ahead academically 3-5 years ahead of their low-income, non-proficient classmates. Each year, that gap grows at an exponential rate.

The Attendance Gap: 1 out 5 students misses at least a month of school per year. In some school districts the number jumps up to 1 in 3. kindergartens who have miss a cumulative 10 percent of school days have lower academic performances when they reach the first grade. Chronic absence in kindergarten translated into lower fifth-grade achievement. Poor children are 4 times more likely to be chronically absent in kindergarten than their more affluent peers. By the 6th grade, chronic absence can predict high school dropout rate. By the Reading School district’s own numbers, 90% of all students living in poverty. Knowing what we do know at this present moment about the importance of third grade reading levels, take a second to digest all this information.

The Summer Slide: Low-income students lose two months in reading Achievement in the summer, while their more affluent counterparts tend to make gains. By the end of the 5th grade disadvantaged students are nearly three grade equivalents behind the proficient peers. Low-income students tend to learn less and gain more health problems than their peers. Reteaching forgotten material costs schools more than $1,500 per child and up to $18,000 during their K-12 career.

Now that you have some basic facts about the importance of 3rd grade reading levels, you’re probably wondering what you can do to help? These three topics will be divided into workgroups which will be tasked with finding local solutions to these national problems. One of the biggest obstacles this group faces is time. The deadline for the submitted application is on March 12, 2011. Yup, that doesn’t give us too much time to get this work done. But what we do is have is optimism, hope, and persistence. Now is the perfect time for the City of Reading to pursue this award. And while there is no monetary reward for the top-10 cities, the national recognition is tantamount to the PR of Reading which has taken a hit lately. Besides this being a golden-time as far as PR goes for Reading to take advantage of this opportunity, our students deserves our best, sincere, effort. I’ve spit out the numbers, brought out the facts, and done everything I could to paint a picture of low-income students who are failing at every aspect of their educational careers. They deserve the opportunity to compete on an academic scale like their more affluent counterparts. Our students need people, like you and like me, who have the credentials to help change the failing course our students are on.

If you would like to be involved, please send an email to

For more information about the campaign, visit the site at

Together we can move mountains and “When Spider webs unite, they can trap




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