Last summer, when AzMERIT scores were released, Arizona residents learned that more than half of the state’s third graders were not reading at grade level.
Last week, Arizona’s Office of the Auditor General chided the Arizona Department of Education for not making sure that schools are making good use of an annual $40 million allocation to bring weak readers up to speed.
And. because Arizonans pride themselves on local school district control — remember all the fighting over Common Core and the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards — I am not holding my breath in anticipation that much will change.
Read On Arizona spreads reading passion and skills
But I am applauding a private-non-profit effort called Read On Arizona, which is charging ahead with reading efforts all over the state. So far the partnership has helped 25 Arizona communities, including several in the Valley, become what it calls “Read On Communities.” The communities channel city, school, non-profit and business resources to programs that help young children read by the end of third grade.
Read On Arizona recently partnered with the Maricopa Association of Governments to create a data tool that allows users to see how young children in their neighborhood elementary schools, school districts and counties are doing in reading. The tool also shows factors like school attendance rates, health data and poverty information – all of these affect how well kids perform in school.
Consider helping an Arizona child learn to read
Check out your school, district or county and see how well kids in your area are reading.
Don’t like what you see? Then consider becoming a volunteer with one of the many Valley programs that connect adult readers with children who are struggling.