Over 140 state leaders and partners came together last Friday at the Hunt Library in Raleigh to take action on ensuring that more of North Carolina’s children learn to read by third grade. The NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading, an initiative of NCECF in collaboration with NC Child, BEST NC and the North Carolina Partnership for Children, brought together diverse leaders working across disciplines – health, family and community support, and early learning and education; across sectors – government, policy, private and nonprofit; across systems – birth-through-age-five and kindergarten-through-third-grade; and across the political aisle, to begin moving to action on measures of children’s progress along the pathway to grade-level reading.
Pathways released a one-page graphic at the meeting that highlights the vision of all children reading on grade-level by third grade, the literacy milestones along the pathway, and the critical measures NC needs to track in order to ensure that children get there. The graphic also embodies the Pathways whole-child approach by noting the importance of working across sectors, including health and development on track, beginning at birth; supported and supportive families and communities; and high quality birth-through-age-eight learning environments and regular school attendance.
Meeting attendees started by reviewing the first two phases of the Pathways work – choosing research-based measures of success to track children’s progress towards reading on grade-level, and understanding how North Carolina’s children are doing on those chosen measures. The group then heard and reacted to their Learning Teams’ recommendation of a set of seven measures of success to move to action on first, based on the research-based connections of the measures to grade-level reading, and the need and inequities found in the North Carolina data for the measures. The seven recommended measures to start with include:
- Healthy birthweight
- Social-emotional health
- Parent-child interactions
- Family supports
- Early intervention
- High quality birth-to-age-eight early care and education
- Regular school attendance
The attendees also did an exercise to see how their work – whether it’s providing health care to pregnant mothers or building housing supports, teaching toddlers or abating lead in our communities – is connected to third-grade reading proficiency.
In the afternoon, the Pathways partners shared their knowledge and expertise to help flesh out the next phase of the Pathways work – Design Teams that will create policy, practice, program and capacity-building agendas to improve children’s and families’ outcomes on the seven measures. Meeting attendees suggested members for the Design Teams – individuals and organizations that have been engaged in the work, those that are impacted by the issues, and those with the authority to make change. They also provided input into what the Design Teams need to know from parents and caregivers to best support their challenges and opportunities, and from providers to best support their direct work with families.
The meeting wrapped up with an exciting presentation by SAS of a data dashboard prototype that visualizes the Pathways measures in an accessible and interactive format. State and local leaders, nonprofit partners and parents will all be able to see how children in their communities are doing on the critical Pathways measures, including slicing and dicing data in different ways, once the dashboard gets up and running. SAS has been a strong partner of the Pathways work from the beginning, and we cannot thank them enough!
We also want to thank the NC Pediatrics Society for their continued engagement in the Pathways work and for sponsoring the meeting on Friday. And of course we want to thank all the partners who continue to be engaged in this important and long-term work. As Cindy Watkins, Executive Director of the North Carolina Partnership for Children, said, “Without you, this work could not happen.”
Download the presentation.