ON MARCH 14, 2016 FLYNN FIDGEON, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER FOR THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF INDIAN RIVER COUNTY ISSUED A PRESS RELEASE THAT “INDIAN RIVER COUNTY HAS BEEN HONORED AS A PACESETTER BY THE CAMPAIGN FOR GRADE-LEVEL READING FOR MAKING MEASURABLE PROGRESS ON ELIMINATING BARRIERS FACED BY CHILDREN FROM LOW-INCOME FAMILIES ON THE PATH TO BECOMING PROFICIENT READERS.”
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the U.S. to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship. The Campaign focuses on an important predictor of school success and high school graduation: grade-level reading by the end of third grade.
Note: On August 16, 2015 we published an article on what 90% literacy by the end of third grade actually means. You can access that article with this link:
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading website lists 19 investors, including nationally recognized foundations such as The Annie E. Casey Foundation (Anchor Investor), The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation (Lead Investors) and the bezosfamilyfoundation and Dollar General Literacy Foundation (Co-Investors).
In addition to 127 Campaign Partners such as the National Governor’s Association, Sesame Street/Sesame Workshop and the Public Broadcasting Service, which collectively advance the grade-level reading agenda nationwide, the Campaign works alongside 100+ local funders and 1,600 local organizations improving third-grade reading in their home communities.
Research shows that proficiency in reading by the end of third grade enables students to shift from learning to read to reading to learn, and to master the more complex subject matters they encounter in the fourth grade curriculum.
Most students who fail to reach this critical milestone falter in the later grades and often drop out before earning a high school diploma. Yet two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders are not proficient readers, according to national reading assessment data. This disturbing statistic is made even worse by the fact that more than four out of every five low-income students miss this critical milestone.
Although schools must be accountable for helping all children achieve, providing effective teaching for all children in every classroom every day, the Campaign is based on the belief that schools cannot succeed alone. Engaged communities mobilized to remove barriers, expand opportunities, and assist parents in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities to serve as full partners in the success of their children are needed to assure student success.
According to the Campaign website, about 67 percent nationwide and more than 80 percent of those from low-income families—are not proficient readers by the end of third grade.
This year, Indian River County will be among 38 Pacesetter communities to be honored at an annual awards luncheon during the Campaign’s 2016 Funder- to-Funder Huddle in Washington, D.C., on April 7. Each Pacesetter will receive a certificate and special recognition banner to showcase their award throughout their communities.
In order to become a Pacesetter, Indian River County was evaluated based on a rigorous self-assessment and was identified based on meeting the following criteria:
- Demonstrating measurable improvement in outcomes for low-income children on school readiness, school attendance, summer learning and grade-level reading.
- Operating with an updated Community Solutions Action Plan (CSAP).
- Implementing key strategies for success and replicating proven and promising strategies, programs and practices.
- Integrating efforts to support parent success and address the health determinants of early school success.
- Driving with data to establish baselines, set targets, track progress, disaggregate for subgroups, tailor strategies and ensure accountability.
- Building a coalition of local funders committed to achieving results.
“Pacesetter Honors are among the highest awards presented by the Campaign,” said Ralph Smith, the managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “We are very proud of Indian River County and the numerous organizations and individuals behind them for joining forces and working tirelessly to uplift children and families. They remind us that we are seeing great progress and real results all across the country.”
At the 2015 Funder- to-Funder Huddle in San Francisco, CA attendees participated in various workshops sponsored by various foundations such as the Winthrop Rockefeller and Patterson Foundations. Topics included:
- What science says about the importance of early literacy, social-emotional-cognitive skill development and the health determinants of early school success.
- What research confirms about the detrimental effects of early chronic absenteeism.
- How to make progress by focusing on parents and health.
- Ways funders can use strategic communications to create and reinforce the connective tissue among key constituents including Board, staff, volunteers, donors and media while strengthening the fabric of Grade-Level Reading Campaigns.
Here, locally, Barbara Hammond, Co-Founder of The Learning Alliance, was quoted in Mr. Fidgeon’s news release as saying: “What we should be proud of is that the culture of this community has changed to be one of collaborative learning and innovation. All who work on this across the community and within schools are to be congratulated.”
Dr. Mark Rendell, Superintendent of the School District of Indian River County was quoted as saying: “This is quite a big deal. It’s not a School District award, it’s a community award.”
In Indian River County, the Campaign is supported by The Learning Alliance, the Education Foundation of Indian River County, Indian River Community Foundation, The United Way of Indian River County, Literacy Leaders of Indian River County, The Early Learning Coalition, Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative, Vero Beach Museum of Art, Big Brothers Big Sisters and AmeriCorps Programs, Gifford Youth Achievement Center, Boys and Girls Clubs of Indian River County, Fidelity Investments, Ray Oglethorpe, Riverside Children’s Theatre, Indian River Chamber of Commerce, Smart Baby Ambassadors, Childcare Resources of Indian River, Feed the Lambs, School District of Indian River County, and many more literacy leaders in the community.
Sources: The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading website / March 14, 2016 Flynn Fidgeon News Release