31 Mar Bellevue Participates in National Challenge for Grade Level Reading
Eastside Pathways joined over 100 other communities in submitting a Community Solutions Action Plan (CSAP) as part of the national Grade Level Reading Challenge (GLRC) with the goal of ensuring that 95% of Bellevue’s children are proficient at reading by third grade. Twelve Eastside Pathways partner organizations and many community volunteers contributed to the plan.
To develop the CSAP Eastside Pathways gathered together a leadership team comprised of the major agencies, interest groups, parents, and community members. This group’s role was to reaffirm the goals of the GLRC and to develop a long-term sustainable plan. By bringing partners together, we can make their work more impactful by creating systemic practices that align the current resources and activities occurring across Bellevue.
The leadership group met in three sub-committees to develop plans in the areas of school readiness, absenteeism and summer learning. Research shows that by addressing these three areas communities can have a substantial impact on reading success. Research also shows that being proficient at reading by third grade is the most important predictor of success in school, college and career. The third grade milestone marks the point when children shift from learning to read and begin reading to learn. Students who haven’t mastered reading by that time are more likely to get stuck in a cycle of academic failure, drop out of school, and struggle throughout their lives.
The organizations that developed the CSAP are committed to putting the ideas into practice to the best of their ability and encourage other organizations to join the effort. Eastside Pathways facilitated working groups will continue to meet to further refine the three plan areas and to begin implementation.
The CSAP reflects the hard work and thinking of many individuals. Thank you to those individuals and organizations who committed the time and energy to developing this plan.
Organizations and Individuals on the Leadership Team
- Bellevue Boys and Girls Club
- Bellevue School District
- Bellevue Schools Foundation
- Child Care Resources
- City of Bellevue
- Eastside Pathways
- Impulso Escolar (a parent organization)
- KidsQuest Children’s Museum
- King County Housing Authority
- King County Library System
- King County Public Health/Eastgate Public Health Center
Additional community volunteers not affiliated with any one organization also participated in the work.
The next steps in the process include reviewing and scoring CSAPs from other communities. We have two teams of reviewers who will read and score three applications from around the country. Bellevue will receive evaluation and comments on its application. This feedback from outside reviewers will be invaluable in validating and strengthening our plan. Winners of the All American City (AAC) award, sponsored by the National Civic League, will be announced in early July.
The AAC award will go to communities that have developed the most comprehensive, realistic and sustainable plans to increase grade-level reading proficiency by the end of third grade. Though there is no cash prize for the AAC award associated with a community’s participation in the reading challenge, applying for the award was the catalyst for Eastside Pathways to begin its first effort to demonstrate the capabilities of the community working together toward common goals to make a difference for our children.
Currently in Bellevue, 84% of kids are proficient in third grade reading. The overall performance of the district hides disparities of achievement for students living in poverty, those eligible for free and reduced lunch (F/R Lunch) as well as certain ethnic groups which have higher poverty rates. Only 66% of low-income children are proficient in reading by third grade. This gap is persistent and leads to flat overall proficiency rates year over year. This flat reading performance is of concern because the population of at-risk children continues to underperform. The challenge in Bellevue lies in closing the achievement gap to ensure all kids are proficient in reading and math.
The Community Solutions Action Plan Summary
School Readiness–Focuses on early learning so that more children arrive at Kindergarten ready to learn.
Strategy 1: Link child care and early learning center providers to BSD so that feedback and targeted professional development (around best practices in early learning) can be provided. Goal is to significantly increase the number of students who come to school meeting all kindergarten-ready standards.
Strategy 2: Increase education of parents and family caregivers about the importance of early literacy skills through a variety of parent touch points such as doctor’s visits, families accessing child-focused activities, etc. and through development of new ways to connect parents to this information. Goal is to improve parent/child bond and improve the quality of parent provided early learning when kids are not enrolled in formal child care or preschool programs.
Absenteeism–Focuses on addressing data collection in the schools and awareness of the importance of school attendance.
Strategy 1: Develop and implement a cohesive district-wide system for school attendance.
Strategy 2: Create and build sustainable school -partnerships that recognize diversity of family structure and cultural and economic background.
Strategy 3: Engage the community in partnerships to support school attendance.
Strategy 4: Join efforts with community leaders and organizations to advocate for increased funding to support school attendance and revising the truancy law.
Summer Learning–Focuses on increasing access to books and reading during the summer, expanding opportunities for low-income children and integrating fun and learning during the summer.
Strategy 1: Build engaging integrated summer programs which incorporate academic learning, life skills, and enrichment,
Strategy 2: Every child in Bellevue reads at least 20 min every day over the summer.