Return to Headlines

District's summer-learning opportunities praised

RALEIGH, N.C. — The national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) singled out Chatham Reads for its progress in 2017 with getting children from low-income families ready for school and providing them with summer-learning opportunities.

Chatham Education Foundation (CEF) and Chatham County Schools (CCS) Chatham Education Foundation Executive Director Jaime Detzi speaks with a Siler City Elementary School student.   are lead partners for Chatham Reads, an initiative aimed at getting kids and grown-ups alike on the same page about students reading proficiently by the time they finish third grade. That’s a critical milestone, because research has demonstrated that students not reading on grade level by then are more likely to drop out of high school. Just 39 percent of North Carolina fourth-graders and only 24 percent of students from economically disadvantaged situations scored either at or above reading proficiency in 2017, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The NAEP reports similar numbers across the country.

“The bottom line is reading proficiently by the third grade predicts both high school and future success,” CEF Executive Director Jaime Detzi said. “We are dedicated to having 80 percent of Chatham County Schools third-grade students reading on grade level by 2022.”

Toward that end, Chatham Reads expanded its mobile library by collaborating with the collective summer-learning initiative of CCS and CEF. Libraries in the district’s schools were expanded to include high-interest, bilingual books in both Spanish and English.

“Students need to see themselves in the books they read,” said Dr. Amanda Hartness, Chatham County Schools Assistant Superintendent Amanda Hartness explores books with a student at Virginia Cross Elementary.  the district’s assistant superintendent for academic services and instructional support. “Research has shown that the vast majority of books students read  — 73.3 percent — have characters who are white. Our students of color need to see heroes in books that represent their race and their culture. Only 2.4 percent of children’s books have Latinx characters, and only 7.6 percent of children’s books have African-American characters. Chatham County Schools is proud to partner with community organizations like CIS and Chatham Reads to bring diverse books to our students. In addition, we are thankful for the support from vendors like Lee & Low Books, who specialize in children’s book diversity.”

A student-support specialist from Communities in Schools of Chatham County (CISCC) traveled with the mobile library to engage parents. CISCC and the Chatham Literacy Council piloted a program that empowered a dozen families to participate in a multigenerational program linking literacy development for adults with facilitated parent engagement.

CGLR also recognized Read Charlotte in Mecklenburg County; Moore County’s Growing Moore Readers; and WAKE Up and Read in Wake County for measurable progress on key indicators of early school success, including school attendance.

“We are proud of North Carolina communities being recognized for their achievements to ensure more children are ready for school and reading on grade level,” said Lisa Finaldi, the community engagement leader for the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF).

NCECF is touted as the only organization in the state focusing exclusively on children from 0-8 years old — a significant time for human development.

CGLR launched in 2010 as a collaborative effort of at least 360 communities that include Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada to help more children from low-income situations succeed in college, career and citizenship.

Published July 5, 2018