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

Dubuque is one of 38 communities that have been honored as Pacesetters 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 them 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 cited for making “measurable progress” on student attendance outcomes and summer learning. In 2015, 264 students attended Summer Academy, which is a program geared toward students not reading at grade level. Overall, these students who attended Summer Academy improved their reading proficiency based on Spring and Fall DIBELS assessment scores.

In the area of attendance, the Dubuque Campaign saw a reduction of chronic absence (defined as missing more than 10% of school days) among kindergarten through third graders at five Title I elementary schools in the Dubuque Community School District. During the 2013-2014 school year, 9-18% of students were chronically absent, whereas in the 2014-2015 school year, 6-12% were chronically absent.

“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 (CFGD). “Receiving this honor is a great reward for all the hard work partners have done and will be a motivator in creating continued success.”

National tests show that two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders, and four-fifths of those from low-income families, are not reading proficiently. In Dubuque, during the 2014-2015 school year, 39% of third graders were not on target for reading success in the Dubuque Community School District. 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.

“If we’re going to close the achievement gap, we need mobilized communities—like these Pacesetters—working with schools, city agencies, nonprofits, civic leaders and parents to focus on third-grade reading,” Smith added. “These Pacesetter communities inspire us to believe that great things can happen when all of us support parents, care providers and educators as they work to ensure more hopeful futures for our children.”

Dubuque and the other award winners are part of a nationwide campaign now operating in 240 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.

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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