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Moving the Needle on Grade-Level Reading in Arkansas

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In 2012, the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading launched with the mission to ensure all children in Arkansas read on grade-level by the end of third grade.

Through a network of more than 30 organizations from around the state, representing parents, educators, early childhood education, state agencies and foundations, the campaign has worked collectively to move the needle on third grade reading.

The campaign's latest report, "Moving the Needle on Grade-Level Reading in Arkansas: Impact, Influence and Leverage," details improvements made in the campaign’s five key impact areas, including family and community engagement; school readiness; school attendance; classroom instruction; and summer learning. Together, these efforts have helped increase the percentage of third graders in Arkansas reading on grade level from 35 percent in 2015-2016 to 37 percent in 2016-2017. As a result of the campaign and its more than 30 partner organizations, the state has also seen:

  • 5,500 families engage with their children through Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing, a parent engagement and public awareness effort in partnership with AETN to empower caregivers of children ages 0-5
  • 56,000 children receive books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and Reach Out and Read.
  • 1,000 kindergarten through second-grade teachers trained through the Reading Initiative for Student Excellence (R.I.S.E. Arkansas).
  • 250+ school districts reporting chronic absence rates as part of the new accountability measure in the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan.
  • 45 school districts developing plans to reduce chronic absence through the Make Every Day Count initiative.
  • $114 million in annual funding for the Arkansas Better Chance pre-K program and $11.4 million to expand quality infant and toddler care through Early Head Start Child Care partnership grants.
  • $4.3 million for high-quality after-school and summer learning programs, tutoring and pre-K in 2016-2017 for high-poverty school districts.
  • While this report reflects on the progress of the last six years, there is still significant work to be done. The report outlines our plan to broaden community engagement to include the business and healthcare sectors; build on momentum at the state level to take to scale comprehensive policy solutions; develop two-generation strategies to support children and their parents; and align and aggregate evidence-based strategies to achieve outcomes for ALL children.


    Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

    "Moving the Needle on Grade-Level Reading in Arkansas: Impact, Influence and Leverage" report