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Report highlights literacy problems with West Michigan students

11:59 AM, Aug 1, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - A new report out today suggests an alarmingly low number of West Michigan students are reading at grade level.

It is a little known fact that most children learn to read by the end of third grade. After that point, children read to learn.

According to the Community Literacy Initiative report, in the 20 local school districts the Kent ISD serves, 1 in 3 students can not read at grade level. Those reading struggles may likely be a bigger problem for students in the future.

"Children who are not reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade are more likely to not graduate from high school, which perpetuates the cycle of not going to college and not getting into the workforce," said Lindsay McHolme, director of the Community Literacy Initiative. "Because we know that the parents literacy and the parents support for the children make such a big difference for early readiness as these children become adults and have their own children it becomes this cycle."

McHolme hopes this report highlights the urgency of supporting local efforts to help more students read at grade level.

"We really need to come around as a community and support this issue.  That could mean that you read with a child. That could mean you volunteer to tutor and adult.  It could mean many things, but we are just advocating that you take the time, maybe two hours a week, to volunteer for a literacy provider in the community. It is the perfect time since school is starting up again to get involved," said McHolme.

20 schools had more than 50% of third graders not proficient in reading. They are Grand Rapids, Godfrey-Lee, and Kelloggsville.

"And it is not just Grand Rapids Public Schools, it is a national problem. We are partnering with the Campaign For Grade Level Reading and this campaign is a national campaign which focuses on the importance of reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade," said McHolme.  "They look at how well our schools are supporting children and they focus on the extra supports like attendance and early readiness support and parental support."

Click here to see the full report.

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