Third grade reading proficiency is a critical component of learning and an indicator of long-term educational and life outcomes. Yet more than 43% of third-graders throughout Berks County are reading below grade level. That means that 1,996 children in our community - in urban, rural and suburban schools - are four times more likely to drop out of school and 13 times more likely to drop out if they also live in poverty. They are less likely to develop skills essential for contributing to the 21st Century economy and less likely to be effective citizens.
Ready.Set.READ! is a community-wide initiative that brings together schools, businesses, organizations and individuals to improve early grade reading success. Our goal is to have 90% of third-graders in Berks County reading on grade level by 2023. Ready.Set.READ!:
This initiative is the result of almost two years of work in engaging the community to find an issue that is important to Berks County and where we have the potential to create positive and measurable change for the long-term.
Through survey reponses from nearly 1,500 people, talking with 275 participants in 23 community conversations and holding interviews with 65 education, community and business leaders, early grade reading success emerged as an area where people felt we need to focus our collective attention at this time. These findings, in addition to extensive data, research and best practices that already exist to support the importance of early grade reading success, point to this goal as an appropriate target issue for Berks County community to collaboratively work towards achieving over the next few years.
The work of Ready.Set.READ! is guided by a volunteer Board of Directors. Learn more about the wide cross-section of community leaders who are leading the charge to improve early grade reading success in Berks County.