Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Aug 01st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Setting the Pace

blog readingNow a ‘pacesetter’ community, Santa Cruz County pushes forward with grade-level reading efforts

It always helps to have a light at the end of the tunnel.

For Santa Cruz County educators interested in addressing grade-level reading, that light is the All-America City award, an incentive from the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to increase the reading ability of third grade and below students. The campaign, a branch of the National Civic League, emphasizes cross-coordination between all sectors of the community to strengthen the resources available to low-income students.

A network of thousands of funders, nonprofits, state leaders and other communities across the nation comprise the campaign, which focuses on grade-level reading by the third grade. Reading proficiency at that cutoff has been identified as a strong predictor of later academic success, as it allows students “to shift from learning to read to reading to learn,” according to the campaign’s website,

The campaign emphasizes three springboards for grade-level reading proficiency: school readiness by kindergarten, attendance, and summer learning. Young students who fall short in any one of these three categories have been identified as at-risk for below grade-level reading.

Santa Cruz County was one of hundreds of communities nationwide to submit an application with an action plan for how to better reading levels for low-income children to the campaign earlier this year. Their plan includes an enrichment-focused parenting outreach program, a countywide reading proficiency by third grade campaign, and a community volunteer network with bilingual tutors for Spanish-speaking children. The All-America award was recently given to 14 of the applicant communities, two of which were from California.

Although Santa Cruz County did not win the award, it was recognized as a “pacesetter” community along with 26 other communities from across the country. According to the campaign, a pacesetter community has set an example for other communities in one or more of the three target criterion.

“The distinction acknowledges the work of early educators, families, the libraries and First 5 to help children enter kindergarten on target for later reading success,” County Supervisor and First 5 Santa Cruz County Commissioner Mark Stone said in a July 2 press release.

Mary Lou Goeke is the executive director of United Way of Santa Cruz County, which teamed up with First 5 Santa Cruz, the County Board of Supervisors, and several local school district superintendents to address the problem locally.

“It takes a village, as they say,” Goeke says. “The approach is that we are our own community, we have our own resources and we can come up with creative ways of doing this ourselves.”

Goeke attended the June 30 through July 2 recognition ceremony in Denver, Colo., which also hosted strategy workshops and presentations. She says learning about the creative efforts of other communities was “very inspiring.”

As for the award, she says “it’s not so much that you get a cash reward, but you get help from experts nationwide.”

“As a pacesetter, we still have access to some of those resources,” she adds.

In recent years, the number of county youth living below the federal poverty line in the country has risen—and with that spike comes significant schooling challenges.

“I was shocked in Denver,” Goeke says, recalling the information she learned about reading levels in other communities. “In Santa Cruz County, some of our districts were quite low [in their grade-level reading proficiency]. One of our districts [the Pajaro Valley Unified School District] was only at 28 percent.”

The initial upset of such statistics aside, reading between the lines provides some encouragement. Freedom Elementary in PVUSD has more than doubled their grade-level reading since 2007, which was then at 12 percent.

“If you do invest really deeply, it pays off,” Goeke says. “First 5 funded this really in-depth program for childcare providers in teaching early literacy, and both the students and the teachers showed remarkable improvement.”

The funds for the early literacy program, called SEEDS, came from the Prop. 10 tobacco tax passed in 1998, according to Goeke.

The county has been collecting data and tracking progress in the three main categories since applying for the award, and will need to keep up in future years to be viable for the All-America award it missed out on this year.

Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by Tammy Andrews, July 15, 2012
Good article. Hope Santa Cruz County educators keep up their efforts to help all children in their county make the shift from "learning to read to reading to learn".

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Picture of Health

Santa Cruz just received a high ranking among California counties. But it may be hiding some of the biggest health dangers facing our area

 

In The Time of Leo: Our Creative Efforts

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Time Capsule

Actors age in real time in audacious, mesmerizing ‘Boyhood’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Maharaja

Chef Didar Singh on Royal Taj’s reincarnation as Maharaja

 

I remember Santa Cruz when…

Santa Cruz | Librarian

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Muns Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir

This vivacious cherry-pink Rosé is a simply beautiful summer wine.