Stakeholders in Dyersville and Jackson County recently came together to learn more about the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and to discuss next steps to implement it in their respective communities. The groups both included community members representing the areas of education, nonprofits, business, childcare, government and more.
The goal of the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading initiative is to ensure that all children succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship. The Campaign focuses on an important predictor of school success and high school graduation: grade-level reading by the end of third grade. Across the nation, there are more than 168 communities committed to this mission, with seven in the state of Iowa including: Ames, Cedar Valley, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Dubuque, Marshalltown and Quad Cities.
The Dubuque Campaign for Grade-Level Reading was launched in 2011 by Every Child/Every Promise, in strategic alliance with the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque (CFGD). The Campaign focuses on three areas: school readiness, school attendance and summer learning. Recent successes in Dubuque include the Summer Academy, which helped 84% of first-year participants maintain or improve reading skills over summer break. In addition, a new career pathway beginning in high school will help more young people become high-quality preschool and daycare providers in the future.
In 2014, CFGD received funding from an anonymous donor, which is helping drive this initiative forward, and will support a part-time coordinator in each community.
“We are thrilled to assist in expanding the Campaign into these two rural communities,” said Corrine Kroger, coordinator for the Dubuque Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “There is a high level of commitment and excitement from partners in both communities who are committed to helping children succeed, and we are excited to get started.”
Community members who attended the meetings in Dyersville and Jackson County heard from Becky Miles-Polka, Iowa coordinator for the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, who spoke on the history of the campaign. Miles-Polka discussed research that shows proficiency in reading by the end of third grade allows students to shift from learning to read to reading to learn. Research has also shown that students who fail to reach this milestone are more likely to drop out of school before earning their high school diploma.
The Campaign emphasizes that schools cannot succeed in this alone. The academic success of children requires engaged communities mobilized to remove barriers, expand opportunities, and assist parents to serve as full partners in the success of their children.
Guest speaker Carolyn Jons of Ames, Iowa, shared her community’s experience as a Campaign for Grade-Level Reading community and the positive outcomes of Ames’ “Raising Readers in Story County” program. Miles-Polka also discussed the Campaign’s impact in Marshalltown, Iowa, which implemented a campaign called “Spread the Words, Read by Third.”
“We have seen success in the Dubuque Campaign when partners work together to make a difference in each of the three campaign areas,” said Kroger. “We hope to take that model and use it in Dyersville and Jackson County to take steps to help children read at grade level.”
The Dubuque Campaign is assisting in launching the Campaign in both Dyersville and Jackson County, and in the upcoming weeks will identify additional stakeholders to engage in the process. The partners will work together to draft a letter of intent to join the Campaign and work to identify areas of opportunities. To read more about the Dubuque Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, visit www.glr.dubuquespromise.org.