by Richard Long
Phil Bryant Jack Markell
Reading on Grade Level by the Third Grade is a movement being supported and lead by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Their public kickoff was in 2011, and it is enjoying a wide range of support. This support was symbolized yesterday (June 4, 2013) by Republican and Democratic governors and chief state school officers talking about the issue at a morning seminar hosted by the Washington Post.
The states that are supporting this initiative are being called “Stake in the Ground States.” Most presenters talked about the need to focus on the teaching and instruction needed to make children grade-level readers by the third grade. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez (R) called for greater use of retention to help the kids that need assistance to become readers. She cited that not reading on grade level by the third grade to be one of the most significant predictors of failing to graduate from high school, while Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R) said that learning to read on grade level by the third grade was the “tipping point” between being successful or not in schools. In addition, Delaware Governor Jack Markell (D) cited the need to support data-driven decision-making as critical for success, as well as providing teachers the time to meet as teams to determine what the data meant and how to apply it.
More controversial was the opinion of the Mississippi governor that women working outside the home was a contributing issue to the decline in reading, while the governor of New Mexico cited that schools were many times being run to serve adults and not the children and this needed to be change. The governor of Delaware said we needed to increase attention on a wide range of issues, including mental health issues.
All the governors and the chief state school offices talked about the value of coaches helping teachers to meet the unique needs of all children.
Richard Long is the director of government relations at the International Reading Association, email@example.com. Find more legislation and advocacy resources in his Hot Topics blog.