Moore County Honored as a Pacesetter for Early Literacy Work

Southern Pines, North Carolina  – April 7, 2016 – Southern Pines Grows Great Readers, now known as the Moore County Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, is being honored as a Pacesetter by the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for making measurable progress on eliminating barriers faced by children from low-income families on the path to becoming proficient readers.

“Pacesetter are among the highest awards presented by the Campaign,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “If we’re going to close the achievement gap, we need mobilized communities – like these Pacesetters – working with schools, government agencies, nonprofits, civic leaders and parents to focus on third-grade reading.”

Results of the Summer Learning Project in Southern Pines showed that 88 percent of participating students maintained or increased their reading level over the summer in 2015. Low-income students typically lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains.

The effort, now in its third year, was a collaboration of the Boys and Girls Club of the Sandhills, Southern Pines Public Library, Friends of Southern Pines Public Library, Rotary Club of the Sandhills, West Southern Pines Citizens for Change, a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant and Moore County Schools.

Children that completed grades K-2 and were identified in school as reading below grade-level received a scholarship subsidy for the full day program at the Boys and Girls Club and small-group tutoring with certified teachers at the Library during the summer. Students and parents received small prizes, books, and gift cards to reinforce regular attendance and encourage the readers. Beyond increasing skills, the project nurtured a love of reading and life-long learning for individual children and families.

An example was the young boy who discovered exactly the books that he wanted to read at the Library. “He shared this with his mom, and now they both come to the Library about twice a week, for her to work on the computer and for him to do his homework and read his books,” said Amanda Brown, Assistant Director for Public Services at the Library.

“We are a small community that has come together to leverage existing resources to support student success,” said Lynn Thompson, Director of the Southern Pines Public Library. “This is truly a grassroots collaboration. With more than 20 organizations involved in the campaign, we are working to replicate this project in other communities, and, with new leadership from Partners for Children and Families, expand the campaign across the county.”

Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a critical milestone toward high school graduation and life success because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of high school and struggle throughout their lives. In Moore County, 2014-2015 NC End-of-Grade Reading Assessment test results show that 63.6% of third graders scored as proficient.

Pacesetter Honors have been awarded to communities and partners in the Campaign network since 2012. View the complete list of honorees. This year, 38 Pacesetter communities will be honored at an annual awards luncheon during the Campaign’s 2016 Funder-to-Funder Huddle in Washington, D.C., on April 7. Each Pacesetter will receive a certificate and special recognition banner to showcase their award throughout their communities.