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Dubuque Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Honored as a Pacesetter for Early Literacy Work

The Dubuque Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has been honored as a Pacesetter by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for making measurable progress on eliminating barriers that prevent students from reading proficiently by third grade.

“Pacesetter Honors are among the highest awards presented by the Campaign,” said Ralph Smith, the managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “We are very proud of Dubuque and the numerous organizations and individuals behind the community for joining forces and working tirelessly to uplift children and families. They remind us that we are seeing great progress and real results all across the country.”

Dubuque was recognized for making measurable progress on summer learning and overall grade-level reading proficiency for children from low-income families. In 2016, 246 students attended Summer Academy, a program facilitated by the Dubuque Community School District geared toward students not reading at grade level. Results showed that 64.9% of low-income students maintained or increased their reading proficiency, compared to 56.3% the year prior. Overall, 78% of students attending Summer Academy maintained or increased reading proficiency.

In the area of overall grade-level reading proficiency, Dubuque has also made gains with both low-income students and the student population as a whole. At the end of the 2015-2016 school year, 59% of low-income third graders in the Dubuque Community School District were proficient readers, compared to 53% the year prior. Grade-level reading proficiency also increased for all third graders from the 2014-2015 to 2015-2016 school year, climbing from 71% to 73%.

The Dubuque Campaign was also recognized for its efforts to use data to identify and serve its most vulnerable children through expansive cross-sector collaboration.

“We are honored to be named as a Pacesetter community and we owe our success to the network of partners in Dubuque that are passionate about helping children in our community succeed,” said Eric Dregne, vice president of strategic initiatives at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. “As this designation shows, we’ve made progress and need to continue to mobilize our community by working with our schools, city agencies, nonprofits, civic leaders and parents.”

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

Dubuque and the other award winners are part of a nationwide campaign now operating in more than 300 communities that is committed to increasing the number of children who are reading at grade level by the end of third grade. 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 including: school readiness, summer learning and school attendance.

The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and Every Child/Every Promise launched the Dubuque Campaign for Grade-Level Reading in 2011 with the goal of helping children read at grade level by the end of third grade—a key predictor of school success and high school graduation. By bringing together schools, parents, nonprofits, community leaders and funders, the Campaign works to ensure more children succeed in school and are prepared for college, a career and citizenship.

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