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DOVER, DE (October 25, 2017) — Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting, State Board of Education President Dr. Dennis Loftus, and United Way of Delaware President and Chief Executive Officer Michelle Taylor were today joined by Governor John Carney for the launch of the Delaware Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR), a community coalition to improve statewide literacy rates by the time a child leaves the third grade.

A student’s ability to read on grade level by the end of third grade is a key indicator of future success in school. In Delaware, 52% of school children read on grade level by the end of third grade. In 17 low-income zip codes in Wilmington, Dover and western and central Sussex County, that rate drops to 37%.* Some of these students suffer undiagnosed physical, emotional, or learning challenges, live in toxic stress, are often absent from school, and may not have access to after-school or summer learning experiences that enrich the lives of many of their peers.

“Third grade literacy is critical to the future success of our students,” said Governor Carney. “This is the time when students shift from the fundamentals of learning how to read, to reading to learn. We must do better as a state, and I look forward to the work of our nonprofit and community partners to tackle this important issue.”

“By the age of 3, a 30-million word gap exists between children from the wealthiest families and those who are economically disadvantaged,” said Secretary of Education Susan Bunting. “Delaware is committed to aligning birth to grade 3 services throughout the state to benefit children now and for the long term. We know that building a solid foundation for language and literacy in the early years highly contributes to success throughout life.”

“Students need early educational opportunities that focus not only on reading but also vocabulary development, written and oral communications skills, and numeracy,” added Dr. Loftus, State Board of Education President. “One entity cannot tackle this alone but working together we are excited to help drive the changes needed for our earliest learners throughout Delaware.”


Campaign for Grade-Level Reading—2 

The CGLR coalition will bring together state government, nonprofit organizations, foundations, schools, and others to address this situation, especially in low-income areas of the state, by leveraging resources in five focus areas:

 Increasing the number of early screenings to detect physical, emotional, and/or learning barriers in children

 Improving academic achievement

 Reducing chronic student absenteeism

 Reducing ‘summer learning loss’

 Increasing the number of degreed professionals in the early childhood workforce

The work of the coalition will be led by the CGLR Steering Committee which will comprise nonprofit leaders, school and community based organizations, and state leaders who will participate on subcommittees addressing the five focus areas.

Taylor of United Way adds, “Improving early grade literacy is a central part of United Way of Delaware’s strategy for improving the quality of life in our state. We welcome the opportunity to help lead the Delaware Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and look forward to creating a new generation of motivated young readers across Delaware.”

Taylor says United Way operates its Reading Angels and My Very Own Library programs, which provide in-school reading volunteers and more than 90,000 books for Delaware school children, respectively. She noted that individuals interested in promoting grade-level reading can volunteer to read to school children as part of the Reading Angels program by emailing communityengagement@uwde.org.

Contact: Schlonn Hawkins

United Way of Delaware


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