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Although we know more than ever about how children learn to read, starting with infants’ earliest language development, this knowledge has not led to substantial improvements in literacy. In Massachusetts, 43% of third graders scored below proficient in reading on the 2013 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, and performance has remained virtually stagnant since 2001.

To address this problem, in 2012 Strategies for Children founded the Massachusetts Third Grade Reading Proficiency Learning Network, a targeted group of communities committed to aligning research, policy and practice to ensure that children have access to high-quality early education and become proficient readers by the end of third grade. Together, the network’s five founding members—Boston, Holyoke, Pittsfield, Springfield and Worcester—are home to more than 100,000 children, birth to age 9. All five applied for the 2012 All-America City Award, which focused on community efforts to improve early literacy.

SFC is providing technical assistance to member communities and convening the network quarterly to share and learn best practices. In the first year, the cities will map assets and refine their strategic plans. To assist communities in this process, SFC is creating an innovative template, informed by successful public health campaigns, that places programs on a continuum with raising awareness at one end and changed behavior at the other. The approach holds great potential to help other communities, both in Massachusetts and other states.

Like SFC’s complementary “Leading the Conversation” initiative, the learning network is designed to help communities implement the recommendations contained in "Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success," which SFC commissioned in 2010 from Nonie Lesaux, a nationally known literacy expert at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The report also informs An Act Relative to Third Grade Reading Proficiency, which Governor Deval Patrick signed into law in September 2012.

Research & Resources
Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success
Full Report   |   Executive Summary
Chart: A Developing Reader’s Journey
Chart: Making it Happen
“The Young Reader's Journey" audio slide show
Fast Facts about your community
Changing the Trajectory: Communities Take Action to Increase Reading ProficiencyKim Davenport, Independent Consultant, and Kelly Kulsrud, SFC Director of Reading Proficiency, 2014
Lead for Literacy (series of one-page memos)Language Diversity and Literacy Development Research Group, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2012
Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
Encouraging Your Child to Read    |    Fomentando la Lectura en tus Hijos
400 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02110                                                                                    info@strategiesforchildren.org