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Mar
31

Springfield, Massachusetts Honored as a 2016 National Pacesetter for Early Literacy Work

Posted by: Sally C Fuller

Springfield—Springfield has been honored as a 2016 Pacesetter by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (GLR) for exemplary work in eliminating barriers faced by children from low-income families on the path to becoming proficient readers.

Springfield has been recognized as a Community Pacesetter for making measurable progress in school attendance, summer learning and overall grade-level reading for children from low-income families. The percentage of K–3 students who were chronically absent declined from 18.2% in 2012–13 to 14.6% in 2015–16. The percentage of rising third graders participating in a summer learning program who maintained or improved their reading level during the summer increased from 76.7% to 83.4% between 2012 and 2016. In addition, Springfield also saw an 11% increase in third graders scoring proficient in reading from 2014-2015 to 2015–16.

"Pacesetter Honors are among the highest awards presented by the GLR Campaign," said Ralph Smith, the managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. "We are very proud of Springfield and the numerous organizations and individuals behind the community for joining forces and working tirelessly to uplift children and families. They remind us that we are seeing great progress and real results all across the country."

"Through our collaborative initiatives, Reading Success by 4th Grade has brought the entire community together to move the needle on grade-level reading proficiency for Springfield's third graders," said Sally Fuller, Project Director for Reading Success by 4th Grade.

"We have focused, and continue to focus, on two critical and intertwined strategies that promote healthy development for all children: 1) Aligning community systems and 2) Building the professional capacity of those who impact children's lives every day, from program director to parent to educator. As this designation shows, we've made progress and need to continue to mobilize our community by working with our schools, city agencies, nonprofits, business and civic leaders and parents."

The GLR Campaign also acknowledges Springfield's impressive work to prioritize children and families in public housing. Its program with the Springfield Housing Authority, Talk/Read/Succeed! targets families with children from birth through age 9. The program is designed to support parents as their children's first teachers and develop children's early literacy skills. As the backbone of Talk/Read/Succeed!, professional outreach workers focus on both reaching families where they are and leveraging their assets and parenting skills — all with supports and strategies identified as critical to their parenting skills. Additional support ranges from increased provision of early childhood education to mental health services to summer learning programs and workforce training.

Reading Success by 4th Grade, Springfield's community-wide grade-level reading proficiency initiative led by The Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, has had significant program support from the Funder Collaborative for Reading Success, whose members include Barings; Berkshire Bank Foundation; The Beveridge Family Foundation; Charles H. Hall Foundation, Bank of America – Trustee; Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts; Farmington Bank Community Foundation; Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation; PeoplesBank; SIS Fund at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts; TD Charitable Foundation; United Bank Foundation; and the United Way of Pioneer Valley.

Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a critical milestone toward high school graduation and career success because it marks the transition from "learning to read" to "reading to learn." National tests show that two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders (four-fifths of whom are from low-income families) are not reading proficiently. Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of high school and struggle throughout their lives.

Springfield has also been designated a Pacesetter Community in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

Read! Reading Success by 4th Grade is a broad coalition of leaders in education, child development, business, philanthropy and government working towards the goal of all of Springfield's children reading proficiently by the end of third grade.

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