Phoenix Mayor Stanton to host Early Literacy Summit

Nov. 7, 2013

National Literacy Expert Joins Dialogue with Business, Community Leaders on Strategies to Bolster Reading Skills in Arizona Children

City of Phoenix InformationRead On Arizona, in partnership with the City of Phoenix, will host an Early Childhood Literacy Summit on at 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 8 at the KAET-TV/Channel 8, Arizona PBS studios in Phoenix.

The strategy session is designed to serve as an engaging exchange on the importance of a community-wide focus on early literacy and its long-term impact on our region’s economic development.   

Education, business, and community leaders will identify and “sign on” to execute the critical steps needed to make third grade reading proficiency a reality. This comes at a crucial time when parents and educators are working to prepare students for the state’s new Move On When Reading policy that went into effect at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.  The new policy requires third-graders to score higher than “falls far below” level on the state reading test or risk being held back a grade. The purpose of the policy is to give children who have significant reading challenges more time to learn. It ensures these students will receive the intensive instruction they need to accelerate their learning and catch up in reading.

“If students are not reading by the end of third grade, we know they are far less likely to graduate from high school. We can’t let that happen,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “Our
schools can’t fix this by themselves and they need our help.  We have to step up to help our students and schools meet this challenge to help build a strong future economy."

Nonie K. Lesaux, professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, will deliver the keynote address. Professor Lesaux leads a research program focused on increasing learning opportunities for students from diverse linguistic, cultural, and economic backgrounds in today’s classrooms. Her research on reading and vocabulary development and instructional strategies to prevent reading difficulties has implications
for practitioners, researchers, and policymakers.  

Barry Broome, president and CEO of Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), will speak to the audience about the early literacy link to Arizona’s economic future. As employers are demanding higher levels of knowledge and skills among the workforce, it is imperative that Arizona students receive quality instruction and academic support from an early age or risk falling behind.

“We are thrilled to have Nonie Lesaux, a literacy expert and policy leader on the national stage, share her insights and research findings with us here in Arizona to inform our work as we forge ahead in making early literacy and third grade reading proficiency a reality for all of Arizona’s children,” said Arizona Literacy Director, Terri Clark.

At the Early Literacy Summit, Stanton will also announce through his Read On Phoenix initiative, a new, specialized literacy program for students in the first, second, and third grades who are participating in the Phoenix Afterschool Center (PAC) program.

The Parks and Recreation Department and the Phoenix Public Library will work together to significantly decrease the number of students who fall “far below” on AIMS by offering tutoring during the non-school hours.  Children who participate in the program will receive free books and individualized tutoring twice a week.  In addition, all afterschool staff has been trained on how to incorporate literacy activities in their everyday programming so participants are continuously infused with language comprehension and reading enhancements. Funding for the program was provided by the Diamondbacks’ Charity Foundation.

About Read On Arizona and Read On Phoenix

Read On Arizona is a statewide, public/private collaboration committed to building an early literacy system that improves language and literacy outcomes for Arizona’s children from birth through age eight—delivering the right program at the right time to every child.  

Read On Phoenix supports schools, teachers, parents, and children by targeting literacy resources to the highest need communities so that every child is reading at grade level by the end of third grade. Read On Phoenix engages parents, businesses, and the community by addressing four key areas: school readiness, summer learning loss, afterschool literacy, enrichment and volunteerism.

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Media Contact:

Karen Leland 480-556-7125

Christian Palmer 602-534-6051