This past week, the Nation’s Report Card was released. As the Washington Post concludes about Washington, DC’s scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), “the District offered a bright spot in the otherwise bleak results, as one of just two jurisdictions that posted gains on two tests. Fourth-graders in the District made significant strides, climbing three points on the national math test and seven points on the reading test.” This marks the second time in a row that the city has stood out for its improvement on the NAEP.
But, as I point out in a Washington Post Letter to the Editor, there is more to these results. In the District of Columbia, among 4th grade readers, only 27% of students were proficient readers, lower than all but one state in the nation. Gaps in proficiency haven’t budged since 2002. 81% of white students scored as proficient compared to only 18% of black students, 22% of Hispanic students, and 14% of low-income students. In DC as a whole, according to at least one calculation, the gaps between white students on the one hand and black and Hispanic students on the other are the largest in the nation on the NAEP.
Our city can do better. And, Companies for Causes will lead the way, continuing to invest in proven strategies to increase graduation rates. But we need your help.
The classroom library is
an essential part of every classroom.
As part of our All Roads Lead to Graduation project, supporting Eastern High Senior High School in the District of Columbia, CforC is launching a new effort – Books for Capitol Hill Kids. Starting at Miner Elementary School and continuing across the Eastern Community, we will work to ensure students have access to books in their classrooms.
The benefits of this investment are clear. Literacy experts agree that the more opportunities that students have to read, the better readers they will become. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress Report, "Students in classrooms with well-designed classroom libraries 1) interact more with books, 2) spend more time reading, 3) demonstrate more positive attitudes toward reading, and 4) exhibit higher levels of reading achievement." (NAEP, 2002) And, we know that this investment will change not just test results but will also improve graduation rates.
Research published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that early reading is critical. Children who do not read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers. Black and Hispanic children who are not reading proficiently in third grade are twice as likely as similar white children not to graduate from high school (about 25% vs. 13%).
I hope that you’ll join us in making an investment in literacy. Together, we can help get more students on track to graduation.