“The relative decline of American education is untenable for our economy, unsustainable for our democracy, and unacceptable for our children, and we cannot afford to let it continue.”

– Barack Obama, 2009

“All skills begin with the basics of reading and math, which are supposed to be learned in the early grades of our schools. Yet for too long, for too many children, those skills were never mastered.”

– George W. Bush, 2003

Reading proficiency by the end of 3rd grade may have a direct correlation to whether or not that scholar will graduate high school. New York Times editorialist Bob Herbert asserts,“If America is to maintain its leadership position in the world and provide a first-rate quality of life for its citizens here at home, the educational achievement of American youngsters across the board needs to be ratcheted way up.”

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has found that inefficient reading proficiency is especially prominent among low-income students. 83% of scholars from low-income families — and 85% of low-income students who attend high-poverty schools — failed to reach the “proficient” level. The Grande Innovation Academy, and other surrounding Casa Grande schools, cater to a large number of low-income families that produce these results.

Scholars also need to be present at school—attending regularly—because they can’t learn if they aren’t there. And they need to have high-quality learning opportunities, beginning at birth and continuing in school and during out-of-school time, including summers, in order to sustain learning gains and not lose ground. For millions of American children, however, these essential conditions are not met. So, what can be done?

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, five essential components of reading instruction were released in 2000:

  • Phonemic awareness: Ability to manipulate sounds in words
  • Phonics: Knowledge of relationships between written letters and sounds
  • Vocabulary: Understanding the meaning of words in reading and in written and spoken language
  • Fluency: Ability to read rapidly
  • Comprehension: Ability to gain meaning while reading

There is also evidence to support less scholars per classroom, per teacher. Summer “learning-loss” is also prevented by establishing fun, hands-on activities that are used to teach concepts that are grounded in a real-world context during the school year. At GIA, we strive to keep classrooms small and instruction direct. Our parents are also highly encouraged to continue Summer learning by providing workbooks that include each subject.

As a nation, we still owe our children a fair opportunity to graduate from high school and to be “ready for college, ready for a career, ready for life.” Similarly, we owe the nation’s workforce, employers, colleges and universities, and armed forces a larger pool of high school graduates prepared to take up the responsibilities of citizenship and adulthood.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 10-year goals are to “(1) ‘close the gap’ between the children of low-income rural and urban families and their higher- income counterparts; (2) increase by 50% the number and proportion of students who are grade-level proficient readers by the end of third grade; and (3) ‘raise the bar’ so that these readers truly are proficient by the rigorous standards that will put them on track to graduate from high school and to compete with the rest of the world.”

Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation, https://www.ccf.ny.gov/files/9013/8262/2751/AECFReporReadingGrade3.pdf