News & Blog: Community

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Reading by third grade: our shared opportunity, our shared responsibility

Guest Post by Mike Nassar
Director, Community Literacy Initiative

The Literacy Center's Community Literacy Summit will be held on Thursday, Janunary 25, 2018 from 7:30 am- 1:00 pm at Grand Valley State University's Eberhard Center. 

As many of us have heard by now, third grade reading is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success. According to The Campaign for Grade Level Reading, approximately 67% of children nationwide are not proficient readers by the end of third grade. It jumps to 80% for children from families with low incomes. Locally, half of all students in Kent County are not reading proficiently by third grade. For students of color, that number rises to 74%.

These statistics have very real and very significant consequences not only for each of these children, but also for ourParent and child reading community. If left unchecked, these low levels of proficiency 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 participate in higher education and in our growing local economy.

This year’s Community Literacy Summit, held January 25, 2018 at the GVSU Eberhard Center, seeks to convene community leaders, policy decision makers, parents, and educators to discuss and understand the issues and conditions associated with a child reading proficiently by the end of third grade.

The Summit will create a dynamic space for sharing our understandings and exploring opportunities for optimizing reading success for children in West Michigan. Keynote speaker Claudio Sanchez, education correspondent for NPR, will provide a national context for the conversation.

Breakout sessions will include topics such as: Best Teaching Practices, New Grade Level Reading Legislation, Summer Learning Loss, School Funding, Teacher Training and Preparation, and Social/Emotional Issues. We are currently seeking proposals for workshops and presentations on these topics.

Our day will conclude with a dynamic panel discussion in which participants will address issues and ideas directly connected to the improvement of reading proficiency.

The Summit Planning Committee includes the following talented and dedicated West Michigan advocates for literacy and education:

Anissa Eddie Process Facilitator, K-Connect

Tracy Horodyski Instructional Coach/ Michigan Teacher of the Year 2017Kenowa Hills Public Schools

Oogie Lamar Director of Adult Education, Kent Intermediate School District

Carol Paine-McGovern Executive Director, Kent School Services Network (KSSN)

Mark Raffler Educational Consultant, Kent Intermediate School District

Thomas Rodgers Family Literacy Coordinator, Literacy Center of West Michigan

Marcia Warner Executive Director, Grand Rapids Public Library

Lance Werner Executive Director, Kent District Library

Wendy V. Falb, Ph.D. Executive Director, Literacy Center of West Michigan

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