So, why is it critical for 3rd graders to read at a 3rd grade level?
Well, first let’s say that it’s important for children to read proficiently at all levels from birth to kindergarten and beyond. First grade and second grade are just as important, indeed.
But, when it comes to 3rd grade, it’s very simple. This is the time in a young student’s life when reading, solely for the sake of improving reading, ends, and reading to learn basic subjects begins. Make no mistake about it, students should never stop improving their reading skills. To this day, I hope I’m continuing to improve my own reading – which at my age, may necessitate bifocals, but I digress.
Simply, if a student hasn’t gained a certain proficiency at the 3rd grade level, he or she is in certain danger of being left in the dust as the curriculum ratchets up with math, science and social studies.
This is precisely the reason why the innovative Pittsfield Promise initiative was aimed squarely at the reading proficiency of 3rd graders with a goal of attaining 90 percent proficiency by 2020. Ideally, that number will be 100 percent, but with the challenges we see today you need to set reasonable expectations with the hopes of surpassing them.
What is most progressive perhaps is how this project does not rely on one facet of the community to achieve its goals. With the leadership of the Berkshire United Way President Kristine Hazzard and forward-thinking board member John Bissell, it was made clear from the beginning that this is not a school issue, a parent issue, or a social services issue. But instead, it is a true community issue and it will take a holistic approach to address it.
On today’s Good Morning Pittsfield, I spoke with the United Way’s Jonah Slattery and the organizations new Early Childhood Development Coordinator Karen Vogel.
From birth to three years old, Vogel said there are ways for parents to boost learning.
“The most important thing you can do is talking to them, explaining the world to them, talking about what they’re doing, taking them out to the environment and exploring, and playing with them – and always explaining things to them. This is the key factor.”
Vogel is a proponent of introducing a child to a childhood center (day care) for socialization skills, and points out that in the past few years the state has set new standards and accountability for positive educational outcomes for the children. In other words, it’s more than just day care, children need to be engaged in developmental activities like appropriate play and more.
But, clearly good learning habits start at home.
“Parents are every child’s first teacher, the more engaged they are the greater chance the child is going to be more successful,” said Slattery.
For Slattery, alignment with all these services is critical – which is the foundation of the Pittsfield Promise concept. From home, to childhood care centers, to schools and beyond – we’re all in this together.
On Wednesday, October 17th the Pittsfield Promise will hold its official kickoff event at the Berkshire Museum.
We’re all interested in hearing more.
President of OneEighty Media, Inc., John Krol serves as Director of Accounts and lead communications consultant for this full-service marketing, communications and advertising firm. John’s extensive experience in journalism, broadcasting, public relations, government relations, SEM, community outreach and marketing provides a unique perspective for businesses looking to re-energize and diversify their marketing efforts.