Third Grade Literacy

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A decade ago, a good friend told a group of us that the very best thing we could do to improve things in our city was to have children read at grade level by third grade. 

At the time, we thought it was a rather odd idea – we were facing poverty, corruption with elected officials, poor land use, brain drain, a terrible economy and silos everywhere that prevented us from working together. How could helping kids read by third grade be compared with addressing those other challenges. However, upon investigation and discussions with others, we realized that reading by third grade is one of the most significant indicators of future success that we have. As a result, we have worked alongside many others to help move reading forward. Third grade literacy is better than it was a decade ago, but over half of the students are still reading below grade level.

Recently another good friend said, “We should have worked harder to get every kid reading by third grade – they would be entering college and the workforce now. What a difference it would have made in our community.” He was right as well. If we keep our focus on adult issues, our progress will never be enough to truly transform our city. We must double and triple our efforts at helping our children be successful now – not later. The Children’s Movement is about aligning the efforts in our community to focus on the ones who truly have a chance to change our future – our children.

Kurt Madden
TCM Leadership Team Member
Chief Technology Officer, Fresno Unifed School District

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