Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
May 24th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Reading Ahead

Child_readingWebExclusive: Office of Education addresses literacy gap in children

Forty-six percent of Californian third graders are reading above or at standardized proficiency levels, according to the 2010-2011 STAR testing results. That number is even lower—40 percent—in Santa Cruz County, but there has been a steady push to work towards raising those percentages.

Most recently, the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, along with more than 150 other U.S. communities, has signaled their intent to apply for the 2012 All America City Awards, which is offered by the National Civic League. By doing so the county has agreed to work towards addressing child literacy by focusing on ways to improve three key areas: school readiness, school attendance, and summer learning.

Susan True is the executive director of First Five Santa Cruz County, an organization that was established in 1998 by the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors to act as the “steward” of Prop 10 (Tobacco Tax) and apply those funds to early childhood education.

“This year, for the first time, the award is focused on the importance of grade level reading, so communities will be chosen based on their development of plans that address the three key areas that we know impact children’s later reading success,” says True.

The shift in focus towards child literacy stems from two recent research papers published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The first is a 2010 special report done by the foundation’s data center, KIDS COUNT, titled ”Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters,” which reports that 76 percent of Californian fourth graders scored below proficient on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). California ranked 46 out of the 50 states in the report. Massachusetts was ranked number one with 53 percent, and Louisiana ranked last with 82 percent.

The second report, “Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation,” was published in 2011 by the foundation and shows that children who don’t read proficiently by the third grade were four times more likely to drop out of high school. Children who lived in poverty and didn’t read proficiently by the third grade were 13 times more likely to drop out of high school.

“In Santa Cruz County, about 40 percent of our third graders read at proficiency or above,” says True. “That means 60 percent don’t, which is a pretty big deal. What we know is that studies have demonstrated that third grade reading scores are an indicator of later academic success. It’s linked to their likelihood of graduating from high school, later health outcomes, employment, incarcerations—I mean major, major threats of lifelong well-being can be tracked to if a child is on target in third grade.”

According to True, Santa Cruz County has a “higher than average” amount of children who are English language learners, and the state average is 38 percent. According to the California Department of Education, 96 percent of English Language Learners in grades K-three speak Spanish as their first language.

Mary Lou Goeke, executive director of United Way of Santa Cruz County, says that English Language Learners struggle because their opportunities aren’t always the same.

“If English is not your first language and you haven’t had the opportunity to go to a really quality preschool ... and you’re not getting all those early sounds and opportunities to explore—singing, and talking, and sounding out words—well, by the time you get to kindergarten you’re already behind and missing it, and it just gets worse as it goes on,” says Goeke.

Goeke stresses that the learning starts at the child’s infancy—before that even—not just when they begin school proper.

“The idea is that you start all the way back, when mom first becomes pregnant, [and] you think ‘what can we do to have a healthy pregnancy,’ but then after the baby’s born, day one is day one of learning,” says Goeke.

Goeke believes that the entire community can come together and find ways to address this issue.

“What we want to do is get everybody in the community all excited about the process and say ‘How can a supermarket help kids learn to read?’ or even at a doctor’s office,” says Goeke. “It’s completely possible for us to succeed in this work, there are proven strategies that community members can embrace, that will help our kids succeed.”

Santa Cruz County, along with the rest of the 150 applicants, must turn in their plans by March, and according to True “what we’ll be doing right now is calling upon community leaders to help us develop the plan between now and then.” True also believes that the county has a good of a chance of attaining the award at that time.

“We have got a lot of work to do, but I think our community has proven that we can raise reading scores,” says True.  “We’ve already done that without a solid plan, I know we can do even more with one.”

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival