by Michael Karpman
NCL presented the coveted All-America City Award to communities where local partners representing a broad range of sectors have developed strong Community Solutions Action Plans as part of the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The action plans focus on three key areas that influence children’s reading proficiency: children’s readiness for school before they enter kindergarten, chronic absence from school between kindergarten and third grade, and the “summer learning loss” that widens the achievement gap between school years.
The award winners were chosen through a peer review process from a pool of more than 100 applicants that have stepped up to close the reading gap between disadvantaged students and their peers. Preceding the presentation of the All-America City Awards was the launch of a new Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Communities Network that includes 124 communities.
As a major partner in the Campaign, the National League of Cities (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education and Families (YEF) provided communities with technical assistance in developing their grade-level reading plans during the award application process and will continue to offer assistance to the award winners and other network cities that are working to help more children read at grade level.
“City leaders recognize that their communities’ futures depend on whether children are on a pathway to success,” said Clifford M. Johnson, executive director of the YEF Institute. “NLC applauds the efforts of honored communities and all local officials who are collaborating with school districts, early childhood education providers and community organizations to develop grade-level reading plans. No one entity can do it alone, and cities can play a unique role to promote reading proficiency by bringing partners to the table and coordinating local initiatives.”
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras announced the launch of the new network and shared their perspectives on the importance of focusing on grade-level reading.
“We know that from first to third grade, kids are learning to read. After third grade, students should be reading to learn. Research shows that children who don’t read at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school without a high school diploma,” said Mayor Taveras.
In the next decade, the Campaign seeks to cut in half the number and proportion of low-income children who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade in at least a dozen states. Joining NCL and NLC as partners in the campaign are United Way Worldwide and more than 80 foundations and philanthropic donors.
“This partnership has been an amazing experience for our All-America City Awards,” said Gloria Rubio-Cortes, president of the National Civic League. “We were overwhelmed by the quality, passion and thoughtfulness of all the action plans submitted by over 100 cities, towns and regions. There is a real and deep commitment to ensuring that our children are prepared to succeed.”
Details: To learn about the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, visit www.gradelevelreading.net. To learn more about NLC’s assistance to local grade-level reading initiatives, contact Tonja Rucker at (202) 626-3004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.