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Ready to Read: Georgia Kicks Off Literacy Campaign

March 3, 2014

The Georgia Campaign for Grade Level Reading will celebrate its launch at the State Capitol on March 5. The event will mark Grade Level Reading Day and the beginning of Read Across Georgia Month. It also highlights Georgia’s commitment to ensuring that all the state’s children become proficient readers.

DPH Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., 
shared her love of reading with a Carrollton, Ga., student in October.

Of all the skills children learn, the ability to read has been identified as one of the greatest predictors of health and success throughout the life cycle. 

“Through third grade, children learn to read. After third grade they read to learn in school and throughout life,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), who serves on the campaign’s steering committee.

According to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), only 34 percent of Georgia’s children are proficient or advanced readers when they begin fourth grade. Research shows that failure to reach this critical milestone increases the likelihood that a child will dropout before graduating from high school.

The Georgia Campaign for Grade Level Reading aims to tackle those numbers. The effort is led by a network of public and private partners working statewide and in local communities to ensure that all of Georgia’s children learn to read by the end of third grade so that they can read to learn throughout school and life. Recognizing that literacy development begins at birth, the campaign is focused on children from birth through the important third grade milestone. 

With the goal of helping every Georgia child read proficiently by the third grade, the campaign will focus on four areas:

·         Language Nutrition: Ensuring that all children benefit from hearing language regularly from the adults in their lives, which is as critical for brain development as healthy food is for physical growth. 

·         Access: Ensuring that all children and their families have access to high-quality educational and supportive services that enable healthy development and success in early childhood and early elementary education.

·         Productive Learning Climate: Promoting learning climates that support social-emotional development, school attendance, engagement and, ultimately, student success. 

·         Teacher Preparation and Effectiveness: Ensuring that all teachers provide high-quality, evidence-informed instruction and effective learning experiences tailored to the needs of each child, regardless of the child’s background. 

The campaign is supported by Gov. Nathan Deal and leaders from many state departments, including DPH and the departments of early care and learning, education, behavioral health and developmental disabilities, community health and the Division of Family and Children Services. The initiative also partners with several private organizations such as Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, Georgia Family Connection Partnership, Georgia Family Connection Network, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia School Superintendents Association, and The Annie E. Casey Foundation-Atlanta Civic Site.

Grade Level Reading Day will take place from 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. in the North Wing of the Georgia State Capitol. To learn more about the event, please contact Campaign Director Arianne Weldon at aweldon@atlantacivicsite.org.

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