An alarming number of children—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 has significant and long-term consequences not only for each of those children but for their communities, and for our nation as a whole. If left unchecked, this problem will undermine efforts to end intergenerational poverty, close the achievement gap, and reduce high school dropout rates. Far fewer of the next generation will be prepared to succeed in a global economy, participate in higher education, or enter military and civilian service.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading was launched to reverse this potentially catastrophic trend by supporting common-sense solutions at the federal, state, and local levels.
These include rebuilding what is now a chaotic system of early care and early grade education by using grade-level reading proficiency as a unifying goal; promoting quality teaching for every child in every setting every day; supporting community solutions to address lack of school readiness, chronic absence, and summer learning loss; and helping parents succeed in their critical roles as first teachers and best advocates.
No one is saying any of this is magic. But it is work that has been delayed and deferred because we too often let our good intentions excuse an unacceptable lack of results. Achieving and sustaining gains in third grade reading proficiency will require sustained diligence, continuing bipartisan effort, and effective collaboration across sectors, agencies, and constituencies.
During the past year and a half, this Campaign has helped to support a movement to take action on grade-level reading. At the federal level, it’s happening with the Early Learning Challenge Fund, and the new Office of Early Learning, among many other initiatives. Some 19 governors have made grade-level reading a priority. And 140 communities are part of our Grade-Level Reading Communities Network, which is bringing together mayors, United Way agencies, chambers of commerce, schools, parents, and educators to substantially increase third grade reading proficiency in their cities and towns.
This Campaign is a call to action. We hope you will join us.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading