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Who is likely to drop out of High School?

 A child who cannot read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade

What is the impact?


A KIDS COUNT Special Report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation 2010:  “ …millions of American children get to fourth grade without the ability to read up to grade level and that puts them on a dropout track. . . Reading proficiently by the end of third grade can be a make-or-break benchmark in a child’s educational development.”  “A student not reading at his or her grade level by the end of the third grade is four times less likely to graduate from high school . . . six times less likely for students from low-income families.”

Drs. Sally and Bennett Shaywitz: Three-quarters of students who are poor readers in third grade will remain poor readers in high school . . .

Donald J. Hernandez, researcher and professor at City University in New York: "Third grade is a kind of pivot point . . ."

Research Study entitled Double Jeopardy published in April 2011:  . . . students who struggled with reading in early elementary school grew up to comprise 88 percent of those who did not receive a high school diploma. That made low reading skills an even stronger predictor than … poverty… In fact, 89 percent of students in poverty who did read on level by 3rd grade graduated on time, statistically no different from the students who never experienced poverty  . . .  [M]ore than one in four poor, struggling readers did not graduate, compared with only 2 percent of good readers from wealthier backgrounds. . . "If they are proficient in reading, they basically have the same rate of graduation," above 90 percent. "If they did not reach proficiency, that's when you see these big gaps emerge." (Donald J. Hernandez, author of study)

2009 study by the Northeastern University in Boston: There is an undeniable connection between literacy rates, high school dropout rates, and crime. The collective cost to the nation over the working life of each dropout is $292,000.

New York Times reporter Sam Dillon reporting on Northeastern U. study:  . . .male high school dropouts were 47 times more likely than a college graduate to go to jail.

Marc Moriel, President of the National Urban League:  “The dropout rate is driving the nation’s increasing prison population, and it’s a drag on America’s economic competitiveness…every American pays a cost when a young person leaves school without a diploma.”  

Jim Trelease, author and lecturer on children, literature and television: “Change the graduation rate and change the prison population. . . Without classroom success, today’s male faces an impossible challenge from both intelligent women … and foreigners willing to do the same job for less.”

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as cited in Annie E. Casey report:  “Analyses of data indicates that the US will need 60% of its population to possess a post-secondary degree by 2025 to remain globally competitive.” And to achieve the goal we need 16 million more college graduates each year, which requires High School graduation which requires 3rd graders who can read proficiently.


McKinsey & Company: Estimates are that if students in this country had met educational achievement levels of higher-performing nations, then between 1983 and 1998 America’s GDP could have been $1.3  trillion  - $2.3 trillion higher. Learning to read is a challenge for almost 40 percent of kids. . .  If a child can't read well by the end of third grade, odds are he will never catch up. The effects of falling behind and feeling like a failure can be devastating.

Jim Trelease: “Poverty and illiteracy are related--they are the parents of desperation and imprisonment”

When a child struggles to read the cost to the nation AND the child is enormous

                     AteamBC—We use Best Practices in getting Kids to Read

                          (Plus a unique combination of activities that keep kids engaged) “The good news is that with early help, most reading problems can be prevented.”

Study out of University of Michigan--Emerald Elementary Beats the Odds: “Emerald is a high-poverty school that is demonstrably effective in teaching children to read.” From interviews and observations, elements of success--

  • Faculty Expectation: students will learn to read

  • Student learning dictates procedure: emphasis on learning not curriculum--flexible instruction

  • Belief that reading problems lie in programs and instruction not in children

  • Climate was safe and caring and respectful of student concerns

  • Responsibility of a student’s success was shared by several teachers

  • Teacher planning is proactive not reactive, and environment encouraged risk-taking

  • Teachers participate in decision making

  • Faculty collaboration is frequent

  • All work toward the common goal--successful reading achievement

  • Staff leadership is flexible, creative, allows freedom while demanding excellence, allows mistakes, supportive of teachers’ ideas and shares responsibility for failures and successes

  • Feeling of “family” amongst staff  


A KIDS COUNT Special Report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation 2010: “Getting more young children to read proficiently is no mission impossible.”

  • Lessons must be… developmentally appropriate

  • Five essential components of instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension

  • Hands-on, literacy-rich activities

  • Educate parents on the importance of attendance


Reading Rockets:

  • Teach with the end goal of learners in mind

  • Integrate reading components while fostering a love of books, words, and stories.

  • Teaching kids is a team effort


Child Trends, research review:  These may reduce summer learning loss…

  • Academic classes limited to 15 students, with at least two adults (Ateam is set up for 18 with 3 adults)

  • Group learning complemented by individual support

  • Fun, hands-on activities used to teach concepts grounded in real-world context:   And--

  • [Ateam reaches well into the summer months to prevent reading loss]


The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease makes the following points:

  • “Bill Gates-- “Reading off a screen is still vastly inferior to reading off of paper.. .”  What is needed—

  • More positive reading role models that boys can identify with (…we have male mentors who teach)

  • Allow boys to read what they want (we use classics, comics, series books and popular guy-reads)

  • Teach the love of reading--this is more caught than taught and best caught in groups

  • After reading--more talk and open discussion without right or wrong answers  (Oprah Winfrey)

  • Reading Aloud! Based on strong research evidence, this is more important than work sheets, homework, assessments, book reports and flash cards

  • A balance between the tedious and sometimes boring “learning experience” and the pleasures of reading

  • SSR every day (10-15 minutes of silent, sustained reading from material of child’s choice with no reports required and no records kept). There is overwhelming evidence of SSR’s positive impact


AteamBC is a drop in the bucket but we intend to serve as a model for successful afterschool/summer program

start-ups across the nation that will bless the lives of countless children.


Our shared responsibility is helping kids learn to read

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