Local plan to improve 3rd grade reading up for national award

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A plan to that hopes to ensure that more children in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky are reading at grade level by the end of third grade has been chosen as a finalist for the All-America City Award, sponsored each year by the National Civic League.

The plan was submitted by a cross-sector coalition of more than 70 community leaders that included The Strive Partnership and the Northern Kentucky Education Council. The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region is one of 32 finalists selected through a peer review process from a field of more than 100 entries across the country. Winners will be announced July 2 in Denver, Colo.

"We're glad that our regional effort to boost early reading success was positively received by communities across the country as part of the peer review process," said Greg Landsman, Executive Director of The Strive Partnership, which helped to pull together the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky proposal. "It's an important recognition, but regardless of the final outcome, we know that improving early grade-level reading must be a priority for us, and we are committed to launching the campaign."

The 124 cities and counties involved in the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Community Network are adopting a collective impact strategy, engaging the full community around the goal of supporting low-income children from birth through third grade. The plans involve schools but acknowledge that they alone cannot address the myriad problems that keep children from learning to read. The strategies include ensuring that children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed, attend school regularly and keep learning through the summer months.

"We are honored that our region was selected as a finalist for this award, and our collaboration across state lines enables us to develop long term strategies for our children," said Polly Lusk Page, Executive Director for the Northern Kentucky Education Council. "The willingness of our community leaders to rally around this important effort and embrace the core belief that children can and will learn to read successfully by the end of third grade is an example of our commitment to all of our children and the future of the region."

Developers of the plan say that in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, leaders have teamed up to increase the region's third grade reading proficiency. The eight-year initiative includes seven counties and 19 public school districts. Developers claim that currently 70 percent of Cincinnati third graders are reading proficiently by third grade, and 82 percent of Northern Kentucky students are reaching this milestone. The initiative – led by The Strive Partnership and the Northern Kentucky Education Council – aims to raise both those numbers to 100 percent by 2020.

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