Vicksburg joins national grade-level reading campaign

Published 7:44 pm Thursday, March 7, 2019

By Kami May

UWWCM Director of Marketing

Vicksburg is taking a big step toward improving student success by joining the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a collaborative effort to improve reading proficiency, early learning and early school success for children from low-income families.

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“This campaign is just what our children and our city need,” said Michele Connelly, executive director of the United Way of West Central Mississippi. “It provides a framework to incorporate the entire community around reaching the goal of helping children and youth achieve their full potential. Collectively, it is our responsibility to provide our children with a brighter today so that they can choose their own tomorrow.”

Critical for success

Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a critical milestone toward high school graduation and success later in life 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 dropout of high school and struggle throughout their lives.

While more than 95 percent of the third-graders in the Vicksburg Warren School District passed the third-grade reading gate (Literacy-based Promotion Act) last year, the state has announced their plans to increase the score required to pass next year.

Chad Shealy, Superintendent of the Vicksburg Warren School District, said, “We are excited to have access to these expanded resources and we are appreciative of every one of the partners who have come together to make this happen. We can do so much more for our kids and community when we work together.”

In Vicksburg, the GLR Campaign is supported by United Way of West Central Mississippi, Vicksburg Warren School District, Excel by 5 Coalition, City of Vicksburg, Ergon, Inc, and many other local supporters.

Addressing challenges

The community’s action plans address three underlying challenges that can keep young children, especially those from low-income families, from learning to read proficiently — school readiness, school attendance and summer learning.

“We welcome the newest members of our growing network of communities,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “Their commitment to this vital mission comes at a critical time when too many children are falling beyond the reach of schools. We need systems that can assure 24/7/365, two-generation supports and interventions. By taking up this challenge, each of these communities commits to do more, to do better and to make a difference in assuring more hopeful futures for the next generation.”

Membership in the GLR Network gives Vicksburg access to experts and policymakers focused on early literacy; assistance in addressing the challenges that keep many children from learning to read; and access to the new GLR Learning for Impact and Improvement Learning System, a tool that is designed to enhance collective efforts to tap the vase reservoir of experiences and perspectives of the more than 300 communities engaged in the GLR Network.