Educators call it a slow-moving catastrophe. Eighty percent of children are not reading at-grade-level by the end of third grade, according to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
But a community-wide effort in Roanoke to address the problem is showing results and getting national recognition.
In 2011, Roanoke had a problem. Like many school systems around the country, too many of its students were not reading at their grade level.
So the city, its libraries and the school system mobilized with the Star City Reads program. Five years after it was implemented, the program is getting results, according to library director Sheila Umberger. "We’ve been able to increase the reading scores by 12 percent overall. But where we’re really excited is with lower income children, where it’s very difficult to change that. It’s gone up over 14 percent," Umberger said.
The National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading recognized the program during a breakfast Friday morning.
"Roanoke is one of the few communities that’s actually seen a closing of the gap between low income children and their more affluent peers," noted Ralph Smith, Managing Director for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
Reid said Roanoke’s community-wide efforts to address school readiness, attendance and summer learning programs are keys to success.