by Nola Renz, Community Impact Manager - Early Grade Excellence
“The fact is that the low-income fourth graders who cannot meet the proficient level in reading today are all too likely to become our nation’s lowest-income, least skilled, least productive, and most costly citizens of tomorrow. Simply put we are cementing educational failure and poverty into the next generation.”
This is a startling statement from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, who continues to do extensive research on the WHY behind the importance of third grade reading ability. Clearly, we have to do something different – something in addition to what is happening at our schools, in our homes, and in our communities. That is exactly what our Impact Team here at United Way, focused on Early Grade Excellence, is working toward. We know that children learn to read from kindergarten until third grade, and from third grade on they read to learn.
In collaboration with Tacoma Campaign for Grade Level Reading, United Way of Pierce County is bringing youth literacy programs, youth recreational programs, the Tacoma Public Library, Child Care Aware, First 5 Fundamentals and Metro Parks to focus on identifying and addressing the barriers to children’s ability to read. Through this partnership we are creating an aligned, integrated, and coordinated pathway from birth through third grade for children so that they may be prepared for life and set up for success.
While we are fiercely committed to improving the education and lives of young children in Pierce County, this work begins and ends with parents and their children. Here’s how you can be a part of our education revolution:
- Read and talk with your child daily - ensure they are cognitively ready for kindergarten.
- Create opportunities for your child to build their reading skills - utilize volunteer reading tutors!
- Develop a "culture" of school attendance - chronic absence, even among young children, is a clear predictor of drop out.
- Encourage reading and learning games at home during the summer months - avoid the dreaded "summer slide" so your child does not lose their reading ability and fall behind before the new school year begins.