Τhe Child Development Associate (CDA) Advisory Committee recently held a virtual meeting to learn more about the nonprofit Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (GCLR). The Campaign is a collaborative effort of funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that many more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship.
Since its launch, CGLR has grown to include more than 300 communities, representing 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and two provinces in Canada — with 5,000+ local organizations and 510 state and local funders (including 200+ United Ways).
The members of the committee, located across the U.S. themselves, were happy, and in some instances surprised, to learn that there are Campaign partners in their communities right now. Campaign Managing Director Ralph Smith encouraged CDAs and their colleagues to join these efforts.
Smith explained that research shows proficiency in reading by the end of third grade enables students to shift from learning to read to reading to learn, and to master the more complex subject matter they encounter in the fourth grade curriculum. Most students who fail to reach this critical milestone falter in the later grades and often drop out before earning a high school diploma. Yet two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders are not proficient readers, according to national reading assessment data. This disturbing statistic is made even worse by the fact that more than four out of every five low-income students miss this critical milestone.
Although schools must be accountable for helping all children achieve, providing effective teaching for all children in every classroom every day can be a challenge. The Campaign is based on the belief that schools cannot succeed alone. Engaged communities mobilize to remove barriers, expand opportunities, and assist parents in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities to serve as full partners in the success of their children, and they are needed to assure student success.
Aligning to Early Education
Through the years, the Campaign has highlighted the importance of aligning early education from pre-K through third grade in order to increase grade-level reading proficiency and has reviewed recommendations for district, state, and federal policies that would help accomplish this goal.
Smith says, “There’s more we can do and we can lift up ways we can work better together.”
Jenny Sanchez, a CDA in Miami for 25 years at a preschool center, says access to books is key to success. Keisha McClendon, a CDA in Atlanta for seven years and a professional development specialist at a Head Start center, says she tries to introduce new words during storytelling as a way to help her students.
Gina M. Pope, a CDA in Alaska for 25 years, and Charvella McKaye, an assistant professor for Early Childhood Development and Education in Ohio, also attended.