Grade-Level Reading Communities Tell Their Stories

Posted November 2, 2013
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog glrcommunitiestelltheirstories 2013

Six­ty-sev­en Grade-Lev­el Read­ing (GLR) com­mu­ni­ties, to date, have par­tic­i­pat­ed in the campaign’s Tell Our Sto­ry project, describ­ing their chal­lenges, accom­plish­ments and plans. Madi­son Coun­ty, New York offered a can­did and engag­ing account of what it takes for a rur­al com­mu­ni­ty of 73,000 res­i­dents – and 10 school dis­tricts spread across one small city, 15 towns and 10 vil­lages (and) over 660 square miles” – to tack­le the GLR Big Three:” Chron­ic Absen­teeism, Sum­mer Slide, and K‑Readiness. 

Break­ing its sto­ry down into NOT so good news first, then good, and then even bet­ter news,” Madi­son Coun­ty shared chal­lenges as well as its bet­ter news” with kinder­garten readi­ness work, which has received a huge shot in the arm from our Lit­er­a­cy Coalition’s pur­suit of the Grade-Lev­el Read­ing objectives.”

The com­mu­ni­ty also has ben­e­fit­ed from Dol­ly Parton’s Imag­i­na­tion Library. Last sum­mer, the GLR coali­tion received fund­ing from the coun­try music star’s non­prof­it to pro­vide high qual­i­ty, age appro­pri­ate books, to every child from birth to age five in the coun­ty, every month. This, in turn, inspired the county’s ear­ly child­hood care­givers and edu­ca­tors to begin meet­ing to share best prac­tices on how to use the new books and to dis­cuss school readi­ness issues. The Imag­i­na­tion Library also spurred the Lit­er­a­cy Coali­tion to expand its adult literacy/​education work – an impor­tant scaf­fold­ing” for ear­ly child­hood lit­er­a­cy. Madi­son County’s K‑Readiness approach com­bines a pre-school piece with an adult edu­ca­tion piece to build a cul­ture of fam­i­ly literacy.”

For par­ents who strug­gle to read to their chil­dren, help will be more wide­ly avail­able, thanks to the open­ing of addi­tion­al sites offer­ing free one-on-one tutor­ing to adults. These sites will be locat­ed clos­er to adults liv­ing in out­ly­ing areas with no pub­lic trans­porta­tion who could not eas­i­ly get to the orig­i­nal sites. The adult edu­ca­tion effort, Madi­son Coun­ty Reads Ahead, is part­ner­ing with local food pantries and used cloth­ing cen­ters to enable par­ents seek­ing food and cloth­ing to now stay for lit­er­a­cy and edu­ca­tion class­es. Care will be avail­able for their chil­dren, by vol­un­teers pro­vid­ing lit­er­a­cy activities.

Madi­son Coun­ty end­ed its sto­ry with a take away for sim­i­lar com­mu­ni­ties: You like­ly don’t have the resources oth­ers have. Yet if you sit down and study on it, like most chal­lenges in rur­al Amer­i­ca, some com­mon sense, cre­ativ­i­ty, and collaboration—along with duct tape, bal­ing twine, and WD-40—will get you there. Grab those boot­straps. We can do this.”

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