Montgomery County/Dayton was among two states and 37 communities named 2013 Pacesetters by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for efforts to improve early reading through its Learn to Earn and Ready Set Soar program.
The GLR campaign recognizes initiatives to “mobilize civic, business and community leaders to work with schools, libraries and other organizations toward the goal of improving early reading,” according to a GLR release.
“It’s really the alignment that we have in our community and everybody working together that has positioned us for this recognition,” said Ritika Kurup, assistant director of Ready Set Soar, which focuses on birth to third-grade reading readiness for Learn to Earn.
Learn to Earn Dayton, is a nonprofit with a goal of increasing the percentage of Montgomery County students with college degrees or training certificates from career colleges from 34 percent to 50 percent by 2025.
The GLR reading campaign focuses on three strategies for improving reading among children: kindergarten readiness, regular school attendance and summer learning.
Dayton Metro Library worked with Ready Set Soar on a summer reading program.
“We’re happy to be a partner with Ready Set Soar and the other community groups that are working on the campaign for grade-level reading,” Tish Wilson, the library’s assistant director for youth services said.
Among other issues, Ready Set Soar worked with four local schools and area head start to analyze attendance rates and on securing a grant to bring a program called SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids) to West Carrollton schools, Kurup said.
SPARK brings preschool to children who can’t get to preschool. She said the program is an example of Learn to Earn and Ready Set Soar’s community partnerships.
“I think that it’s just affirmation of the great work that’s going on in this region and specifically in Montgomery,” Rusty Clifford, superintendent of West Carrollton schools said of the GLR recognition.
The program, funded with a two-year grant, is serving 30 families in West Carrollton, Clifford said.
“It is tremendous. These 30 kids, they would’ve have come to us with no preschool experience, now they’re not only coming, but these kids are ready to go”, Clifford said.
Mad River Local Schools was one of the districts to work with Ready Set Soar on analyzing school attendance data.
The biggest finding was that a lot kindergartners weren’t attending school, Jenny Birtle, communications director for Mad River schools said.
“We think it’s because a lot of parents are still on that preschool level where they think they don’t need to attend,” Birtle said.
The importance of kindergarten and attendance was addressed with parents at the beginning of the school year, Birtle said.
Mad River also is placing more emphasis on recognizing students who improve their attendance record, Birtle said.
Ready Set Soar which is a member of the GLR campaign participated in the groups Summer Learning Day in June.
“These Pacesetter communities saw the potential and seized the opportunities presented by Summer Learning Day and Attendance Awareness Month,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the GLR Campaign and a senior vice president at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Moreover, they took the time to share what they did and what they learned with other communities in the Grade-Level Reading Network.”