Still, the achievement gap is real in Asheville and it is formidable. In 2014, only 25% of black students passed end-of-third-grade reading tests, compared to 91% of white students.
In 2010 the Annie E. Casey Foundation's report Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters, affirmed the urgency of elementary school literacy and underscored the Read To Succeed mantra: Through third grade a child learns to read; After third grade a child reads to learn.
Three years after the original report, the Foundation published a follow-up, Early Warning Confirmed with studies that support a strong correlation between poverty and illiteracy. We knew that a child who enters fourth grade reading at grade level is far more likely to graduate from high school than a student who struggles to read. And now the toxic combination of poverty and illiteracy is quantified:
26% of students who are not proficient readers and have lived at least one year in poverty will fail to graduate from high school.
Read to Succeed literacy volunteers work one-on-one with Asheville students who struggle to read and live in poverty. Last year, 60% of our students completed the school year reading at grade level proficiency.
A huge thank you to our coaches and their hard-working students. What a team they make!
(wearing my Communications Director hat-of-the-day)
This weekend Read to Succeed will accept an award as the 2014 ACSF "Grassroots Partner Champion." All of us who contribute to R2S with time, money and/or talent are thrilled with this recognition. Thank you, everyone!
As I thought about the upcoming event I realized how often people ask me about R2S and what drew me to the organization.
The answer is easy: I was a newcomer to Asheville, recently retired, and looking for a way to connect with the community. I read a guest commentary in the Asheville Citizen-Times, written by our dynamo board member, Catherine Alter, and I knew this was where I needed to be.
I'd like to honor Catherine by re-publishing her newspaper piece, which inspired me and most of the September 2012 literacy coach trainees. She is one of a handful of founding board members without whom this program would little more than a good idea.
And who know? It may resonate with you, or with someone near to you. Please share this with others. We're taking names for our Fall 2014 training session. If you think, as I did, think this might be a good fit, contact our volunteer coordinator, at the end of the article below.
(Note: when Catherine's piece was written, we had 13 reading coaches in one Asheville elementary school. Today we're in 4 of 5 city schools and the number of reading coaches have almost quadrupled. Yes, we ARE making a difference!)
Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe (R2S) is a local, independent nonprofit on a mission to help close the