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Wake Up and Read Honored for Early Reading Work

Wake County’s WAKE Up and Read was named one of just 30 communities across the nation to be honored with a 2014 “Pacesetter” award by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

WAKE Up and Read was cited for making “measurable progress” on student reading outcomes. The Grade-Level Reading Campaign in Wake County focused efforts on school readiness across the county, in addition to summer learning loss and contributing towards efforts to improve reading scores in the community’s six highest need schools

National tests show that two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders, and four-fifths of those from low-income families, are not reading proficiently. Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a milestone on a child’s path to high school graduation and later success because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of school and struggle throughout their lives.

“WAKE Up and Read is to be commended as a national leader in this critically important effort,” said Ralph Smith, the managing director of the GLR Campaign. “We’re recognizing the communities that can demonstrate they’re really making a measurable difference in the lives of our children.”

WAKE Up and Read and the other award winners are part of a nationwide campaign – now operating in 167 communities -- that is committed to increasing the number of children who are reading at grade level by the end of third grade. The Grade-Level Reading Communities Network now includes 2,100 local organizations at work in 41 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In joining the network, the communities develop formal plans to address three underlying challenges that can keep young children, especially those from low-income families, from learning to read well:

  • School readiness — too many children are entering kindergarten already behind.
  • School attendance — too many young children are missing too many days of school.
  • Summer learning — too many children are losing ground academically over the summer.

The Pacesetter honorees were selected from among 76 communities in the Grade-Level Reading Communities Network that participated in a series of activities in 2014 designed to strengthen their work. Across the country, communities completed rigorous self-assessments of their progress, mobilized local constituencies through events such as Summer Learning Day and Attendance Awareness Month, and updated their Community Solutions Action Plans.

The GLR Communities Network is dedicated to narrowing the gap between children from low-income families and their more affluent peers. According to the U.S. Department of Education, that gap has widened significantly in recent years, with 80 percent of low-income kids failing to read proficiently in 4th grade compared to 49 percent of their more affluent peers.

Launched in May 2010, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading 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.