Read to Succeed Buffalo Literacy Coalition Moves Forward to Implement Community Solutions Action Plan

Plan addresses School Readiness, Summer Learning Loss and Attendance for
Improving Third Grade Literacy

Read to Succeed Buffalo and its Literacy Coalition partners recently worked together to develop a comprehensive plan to improve third grade reading proficiency in the City of Buffalo. After gathering input from stakeholders including parents, educators, service providers and the Buffalo Public School District, the Community Solutions Action Plan was completed in spring of 2012. 

In addition to being a road map for community action to improve third grade reading proficiency, the CSAP process enabled Read to Succeed Buffalo to be a founding member of the national Grade Level Reading Network founded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the National Civic League and the National League of Cities. 

The plan is intended to address what is becoming a national crisis: A full two thirds of U.S. students failing to become proficient readers in the early grades.  In Buffalo the problem is even more severe with 74 percent of children failing to reach proficiency on New York State English Language Arts exams in 2012. The CSAP is an acknowledgement that schools cannot fix this problem without community support.

It is clear that the plan can only succeed with the continued involvement of our Literacy Coalition stakeholders and key partners in the community - including parents. We are encouraged by the active involvement of our Literacy Coalition partners and their ability to mobilize our community to do their part to make an impact in early childhood literacy.

The CSAP focuses on three underlying issues identified by the Campaign for Grade Level Reading as consistently keeping children from learning to read well but within the control of the community at large to affect:

  • Kindergarten readiness - Too many children from low-income families beginning school already far behind.  The research also shows that thee children are less likely to be read or spoken to regularly or to have access to books, literacy-rich environments, high-quality early care and prekindergarten programs.  As a consequence, these children may hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their middle income peers before reaching kindergarten (Hart-Risley).  Research shows that such interactions are critical for language development, an important precursor to literacy. 
  • Attendance - Too many children from low-income families miss too many days of school.  National research has found that one in 10 kindergarten students miss nearly a month of school each year.  In Buffalo the problem is more severe with four in 10 children in this Chronic (missing 18 - 36 days of school) or Severely Chronic (missing more than 36 days of school) category.
  • Summer learning loss - Too many children are losing ground over the summer months because they do not have access to enriching activities available to more affluent peers.  Research shows that children from low-income families lost as many as three months of reading comprehension skills over the summer.  By the end of fifth grade, they are nearly three grade levels behind their peers.

RTSB will also gain support and access to resources as a part of the inaugural class of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading Network. The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Network is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, states and communities to move the needle on third grade reading proficiency and to address the developmental and academic targets that children need to reach to be successful. The work will promote policies that lead to better coordination and alignment of services, improve instruction and evaluation, and tackle obstacles to achievement, such as chronic absence and summer learning loss.

We are beginning work to work with Literacy Coalition partners to identify the most promising strategies highlighted in the plan to submit to the Campaign's Funders List for consideration in 2013. 

RTSB, Our Literacy Partners and the Buffalo Public School District are working together on some initial strategies including:

  • Ready Freddie, an initiative out of the University of Pittsburgh to increase attendance among Prekindergarten and Kindergarten students through parental outreach and engagement and creating and promoting a welcoming atmosphere before the school year begins.
  • Literacy coaching in the early grades to mitigate first grade fade out - where too many of our children in the early grades actually lose ground in reading as they move toward third grade.
  • Identifying partners in afterschool and summer programming to begin to develop strategies to mitigate after school and summer learning loss.

To view a presentation of Buffalo's plan click here

To get involved, please contact Anne Ryan, Executive Director, at 843-8895 or [email protected].



Volunteer

Read to Succeed Buffalo is looking for volunteers aged 50+ to help tutor small groups in Buffalo Public Schools. Click here to learn more.

Parents

Parents have the power to give children a strong start in school. Click here for tips to help your child love reading!  Read more.

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