Guilford County Joins Nationwide Campaign for Grade-Level Reading And Wake County Receives National Award

A community collaborative across Guilford County that is working to build a connected, innovative system of care with and for the county’s youngest children and families has joined the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Across the country, the Campaign works to ensure more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship.

The Guilford County campaign has mobilized funders, nonprofits, health care systems, school systems, universities and government agencies to ensure that many more children succeed in school and graduate. Reading proficiency in the early grades predicts high school and career success. Those who read well go on to graduate, but those who are not reading well by the end of third grade, are four times more likely to drop out of high school. Thirty-nine percent of North Carolina fourth graders and 25 percent of students from economically disadvantaged families scored below reading proficiency on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP, 2017).

In strong partnership with Guilford County Schools, Ready for School, Ready for Life has developed a campaign action plan that focuses on strategies that begin with healthy pregnancy to put children on a pathway to reading proficiency by the end of third grade. Ready for School, Ready for Life’s focus is guiding a community-wide, collaborative effort to build a connected, innovative system of care for the county’s youngest children and their families.

“With 80% of brain development happening by age three, we know that building a strong continuum of supports for children and families must start early,” said Mary Herbenick, Executive Director of Ready for School, Ready for Life. “With more than 110 community partners, we’re building a system of care to make sure children have the best start in life and that they have what they need for school and life success.”

Guilford County is joining 12 North Carolina communities that are a part of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading with more than 300+ community members across 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada. In North Carolina, coalitions are active in Chatham, Durham, Gaston, Mecklenburg, Moore, Nash/Edgecombe, Orange, Pitt, Rowan, Wake and Wayne counties with at least two more stating their intention to join.

In North Carolina, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is led by the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF). Membership in the Campaign provides communities’ access to experts focused on early literacy, parent engagement, equity and opportunities to share and learn best practices from communities across NC and the nation.

“Today we welcome a strong community collaborative to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Ready for School, Ready for Life in Guilford County has taken a holistic view of how to ensure more children are reading proficiently,” said Lisa Finaldi, Community Engagement Leader for NCECF. “It recognizes the connections between health and academic achievement and how school readiness begins with healthy moms and babies.”

The Campaign addresses three underlying challenges that can keep young children, especially those from low-income families, from learning to read proficiently:

  • School readiness — too many children are entering kindergarten already behind
  • School attendance — too many young children are missing too many days of school
  • Summer learning — too many children are losing ground academically over the summer

In related news, WAKE Up and Read, the Campaign collaborative in Wake County, has been named a Pacesetter by the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for its work in 2018 to support early school success. Pacesetters serve as proof points and represent the “leading edge” of innovation, impact and improvement within the national network. Wake Up and Read was recognized for helping to achieve “Bigger, Better Outcomes” for School Readiness, and for “Making Game-Changing Impacts and Fixing the Brakes on Progress.” 

With a focus on ensuring young children have books of their own and through a research-based texting program for families of children, birth to age eight, more young children in Wake County schools are ready for kindergarten. The number of incoming kindergarteners in Title I schools that scored proficient or above proficient in reading increased from 21% in 2015-16 to 32% in 2017-18. The number of students scoring far below proficient decreased from 73% in 2015-16 to 58% in 2017-18.

Download the CGLR Press Release.