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Reading Campaign For Third Graders Launched

Gwendolyn Glenn/WFAE

A public/private campaign to improve the reading skills of Charlotte’s third graders was launched Tuesday. It’s called Read Charlotte. The initiative’s goal is to double the number of third graders reading on grade level by 2025.

At a press conference Tuesday, CMS’ Superintendent of Schools Ann Clark said the campaign comes at a time when there is a reading crisis in the district.

“We have only 40 percent of our third graders reading on grade level,” Clark said.

Read Charlotte officials want to increase that to 80 percent by 2025. So far, they’ve raised more than four and a half million of the roughly $5 million they say they need for the first five years of the campaign.

Initiative organizers say they want to begin working with children on their vocabulary and reading skills from infancy, which pleases CMS Board of Education Chair Mary McCray.

“That’s the time when that love and passion of reading should be instilled in children so it becomes a life-long thing they want to do,” McCray said.

Read Charlotte organizers say they don’t have specifics on how they will reach their goals. They say they want to assess the needs of students and the communities where they live first.

Credit Gwendolyn Glenn/WFAE
Read Charlotte, a new initiative to improve the reading skills of Charlotte's third graders.

The Read Charlotte campaign is targeting third graders because studies show that students are four times more likely to drop out of high school if they are not reading on grade level by that time. Some states hold third graders back who are behind in their reading skills.