Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Aug 22nd
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

 

Trending Now

Whether you live by the Vogue bible or choose to go into your day wearing what you slept in, odds are you wear clothes.

 

Entering Virgo

Sun entering Virgo brings a sign and element change, from Leo’s fire to Virgo’s practical earth. Food, health, grains, service and small animals are in the news and on our minds. It’s one month till autumn. Pumpkins and persimmons are ripening. Venus is in Leo. We radiate warmth; we’re generous, playful and affectionate. Everyone shows off in an ardent, passionate, warm-hearted, romantic and over-dramatic way, reflecting Leo’s fiery nature. Think of life as Shakespeare wrote: life is a play, we are its actors on the same stage together.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 22

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

 

Locavores Only

Farm dinners at Route 1 Farms and the Homeless Garden Project expand the revolution

 

How should Santa Cruz develop downtown around the San Lorenzo River?

Santa Cruz | Artist/Show Promoter

 

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

 

Clowning Around With Armitage Chardonnay

Four of us headed to Brandon Armitage’s new tasting room in Aptos Village recently to try his well-made wines.