May 28, 2015 A Community Reality and Opportunity

 

It is so exciting to be a part of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading because we are gathering information, sharing knowledge, and beginning to formulate plans to make our world a better place. While I’m grateful for every individual who has already expressed a commitment to making sure all our children get the opportunities they need for success, my attention in the past few days has been drawn to people who are just now being exposed to the challenges addressed by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

Recently, I was speaking to a couple about what our community is hoping to accomplish through this work. This couple has two school-age children, and they are concerned, involved, active parents and community members. They were absolutely shocked to hear that currently 29 percent of students in Sarasota County (about 900 students) and 49 percent of students in Manatee County (about 1,900 students) are not reading on level by the end of third grade, according to 2014 Department of Education FCAT scores.

They were so surprised by the stats that they asked me to repeat myself. I’ve experienced a similar reaction with many others as I’ve shared the mission of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

I love being able to share where we are right now, along with our aspirations of where we want to be by 2020, because it’s going to take the involvement of our entire community to change the numbers.

We are fortunate to be a part of a national network of communities dedicated to making a difference in reading proficiency. The national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is providing us with information and resources about programs throughout the United States that are making a difference.

Our work is focused on three key areas:

School Readiness – Allowing families and students to have the support they need to be ready to begin school

Attendance – Addressing factors that result in chronic absence.

Summer Learning – Ensuring every student has access to quality learning opportunities during the summer months to avoid loss of skills.

We have an important journey ahead of us, and a real chance to make our world a better place.