June 30, 2015
Fourth grade reading proficiency is a crucial factor in academic success. Through decades-long research, advocacy groups discovered that children who learn to read well by the end of third grade have a much greater chance of finishing high school. The larger effect of completing primary education includes increased income, better healthcare, and the ability to contribute to national economic health. Through its LIVE UNITED initiative, United Way is committed to ensuring that students and their families have access to essential education resources.
As vital as early reading proficiency is, approximately 80 percent of low income children don't achieve this milestone. Sixty percent of students nationwide cannot read above the eighth grade level. Although there has recently been marked improvement, the dropout rate in public schools remains as high as 30 percent, depending upon location, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. In many underdeveloped countries, the statistics are worse. The figures represent a staggering, worldwide failure to ensure the success of our most precious resource. Especially shocking is the fact that a few, simple steps dramatically improve a child's chance to thrive.
United Way of San Diego County is committed to improving school readiness, attendance and reading proficiency - particularly during summer months, when children are out of school. Here's why:
Babies and toddlers not raised in a learning rich environment enter school already behind. They lack the essential tools of language, comprehension, and vocabulary — the precursors to literacy, and foundation for fourth grade reading proficiency. This creates unnecessary frustration, one of the main reasons children stop trying.
Studies have shown that 1 in 10 low income, kindergarten, and first grade students miss nearly a month of school due to absence every year. It places them at significant risk for falling even further behind.
Summer Learning Loss
Without access to summer educational activities, low income children lose as much as three months of the reading comprehension skills gained each school year.
Easy, daily interactions with young children in an educational manner help to develop language skills, and neural pathways in the brain that enable learning. Children whose parents are engaged in the learning process from birth have a much higher chance of success - that's why we've provided literacy toolkits to parents who need them.
Mentoring, hosting nonprofit programs, and advocating are extremely beneficial ways to help children succeed. We understand that community involvement extending beyond education is also vital. Supportive services that improve financial stability and healthcare ensure that children are able to attend school regularly, in a safe environment, with full tummies, and active, healthy brains.
Together, United Way of San Diego County, our partners, volunteers, and parents will make a difference for our children and their communities.