Dubuque One of 30 Honored as a “Pacesetter” in Early Reading Work

Dubuque is one of just 30 communities across the nation to be honored with a 2014 “Pacesetter” award by the national Campaign.

Dubuque was cited for making “measurable progress” on student attendance outcomes. The Dubuque Campaign saw a 71% reduction in chronic absenteeism in a pilot program at one Title 1 school, and while this impacted just one school, the Dubuque Community School District is implementing best-practices district-wide.

Partners in the Dubuque Campaign are also developing strategies to reduce summer learning loss and to increase school readiness, including a Summer Academy that will take place this summer. Strategies are also being developed to support increased participation among area preschools in the state-wide Quality Rating System (QRS).

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 proficiently 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.

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

Dubuque 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. 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.

“We are incredibly proud of the outcomes that have resulted from significant investments made by Grade-Level Reading partners in our community,” said Eric Dregne, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque (CFGD) vice president for strategic initiatives. “Being awarded the Pacesetter Award by the national campaign reinforces the great work being done, and energizes ongoing efforts of the Campaign.”

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.

Every Child/Every Promise, a strategic initiative supported by the CFGD, 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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