Star City Reads, the Roanoke, Virginia, Grade-Level Reading Campaign, is recognized as a 2014 Pacesetter for making measurable progress on student readiness outcomes. For the 2014-15 school year, over 91% of children in the City of Roanoke who attended Virginia Star Quality Initiative programs entered kindergarten with the skills needed to succeed as measured by the Fall PALS-K, up from 88% the previous year.
Star City Reads is characterized by a strong and extensive set of relationships and commitments among coalition partners focused on providing programs and services benefiting children and their families. The local United Way, for example, supports the local CHIP Care Coordination Program that uses a home visitation model employing registered nurses to promote prenatal health and well-child visits and immunizations for medically needy children in poverty. Roanoke Public Libraries also offers a parent engagement program targeting low-income families to promote early literacy and readiness for school in addition to a comprehensive summer reading program in partnership with the Roanoke City Public Schools.
In partnership with the Roanoke City Public Schools, Star City Reads reaches approximately 8,300 low-income children in a school district of over 13,000 students. In 2012, United Way of Roanoke Valley (UWRV) jumpstarted an effort to track long-term outcomes for early childhood programs. With seed money from UWRV, CHIP and TAP Head Start partnered with Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute to analyze school readiness outcomes of children who have transitioned from both programs into kindergarten. Data for children enrolled in CHIP and TAP Head Start are linked with PALS-K (kindergarten reading assessment) scores. Child and family variables are considered, such as one- or two-parent homes, substance abuse risk, dual language learners, history of child abuse, chronic conditions, and so forth. Smart Beginnings of Greater Roanoke (SBGR) now matches similar data for children from its star rated child care programs who have transitioned into public school. SBGR can now pinpoint specific areas in the PALS-K that children struggle with and use that data to strengthen its early childhood programs.
Reflecting on the community’s progress since it joined the Campaign in 2012, local GLR lead, Director of Libraries Sheila S. Umberger commented, “We have learned the importance of working together as a community and sharing our data. This joint effort has allowed us to maximize and focus our efforts to make a difference in the lives of our children.”
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading proudly recognizes the shared ownership for the progress in Roanoke among the following members of the local sponsoring coalition:
- Roanoke Public Libraries
- City of Roanoke, Office of the City Manager
- City of Roanoke, Office of the Mayor
- United Way of Roanoke Valley
- Roanoke City Public Schools
- Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
- Total Action for Progress – Head Start
- Roanoke Children’s Theatre
- Blue Ridge Literacy
- Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke
- Turn The Page
- The Life Ring Foundation
- Roanoke Public Library Foundation
- Reading Seeds – Unitarian Universalist Church of Roanoke