CARSON CITY – Nevada’s Read by Grade 3 program recently underwent an analysis by the RMC Research Corporation that has found that Gov. Brian Sandoval’s signature program is making an impact on the reading proficiency of Nevada’s Kindergarten through third grade students.
“This study demonstrates broad support for the program by our teachers and indicates that the foundation is being laid to make Nevada the fastest improving state in the nation in early literacy,” said Steve Canavero, Ph.D., Superintendent of Public Instruction.
RMC describes several systemic impacts of Read by Grade 3.The first includes how Nevada’s statewide requirement of local literacy plans has impacted the state. One NDE literacy expert describes it by noting how “a uniform network that includes a commonality of language, approach, and programs and services” has emerged across the entire state. Both NDE and local leaders cite the development of” strong effective relationships” as a key contributor to the initial success of this program. One NDE staff member captured this well by stating how “a program is only as good as the relationships you form.” Local leaders listed several layers of support where NDE made this possible. They described NDE’s support through guidance documents, webinars, site visits, and opportunities to network across the state.
RMC researchers also captured the impact that Nevada’s Read by Grade 3 program has had on teachers (including local learning strategists).Highlights of the teachers surveyed included:
• 77 percent of teachers agreed that an effort to engage parents of struggling readers has increased.
• 75 percent of teachers agreed that the assessments they use help improve their instruction to meet the needs of all students.
• 74 percent of teachers support the Nevada Read by Grade Three requirement to eliminate social promotion to help ensure that struggling readers get the time they need with intensive interventions to be successful in fourth grade and beyond.
• 72 percent of teachers agreed that the Learning Strategist provides support that helps them improve their reading instruction.
A sampling of Nevada teacher comments included:
• “I think it has shined a light on students that may have in the past slid by into the next grade level. It has also encouraged more parent communication.”
• “I think this initiative has helped schools be more aware of the struggles teachers have from day to day with the diversity of our learners and has at least started a new conversation of teaching reading to these learners.”
The RMC study cites how both school districts and charter schools across the state have begun to reduce the percentage of K-3 students who have been identified as demonstrating a deficiency in reading. With extensive K-3 educator training combined with targeted interventions for all of these students, RMC states that Nevada’s initial data is encouraging. With this continued trend in students’ reading performance, Nevada is certainly on track to ensuring that all of its K-3 students are proficient in reading by the end of third grade.
This is critical since national research confirms that children who leave third grade without the ability to read at grade level are at a terrible disadvantage for the rest of their lives. Nearly 90 percent of students who fail to earn a high school diploma were struggling readers in third grade. This issue not only presents an educational problem, it also presents a multitude of economic problems. High school dropouts are not eligible for 90 percent of the jobs in the current economy. Statistics further demonstrate how these dropouts make up nearly half of all heads of households who are recipients of welfare in the U.S.
RMC researchers have conducted this research in Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Colorado, and Ohio. Their aim has been to capture the impact that Read by Grade 3 programs are having across the nation. Their findings include perceptions of key stakeholders including literacy leaders at the state level (state departments) and at the local level (local school districts and charter schools). Their work has also captured specific impacts that this program is having on entire educational systems, K-3 educators, and, especially, on beginning readers.