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AETN special addresses grade-level reading, student achievement

Posted 26 Feb 2013

The Arkansas PBS (AETN) has partnered with the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families to present the one-hour program “Raising Arkansas's Readers: The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading” Thursday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m.

The Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (AR-GLR) was launched to ensure that more children succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship.

The campaign focuses on one of the most important predictors of school success and high school graduation – grade-level reading by the end of third grade. The campaign’s goal is that by 2020 all Arkansas children will read at grade level by the end of third grade.

“AETN is committed to the achievement of Arkansas's educational goals and is a media resource and advocacy partner for the campaign,” AETN Executive Director Allen Weatherly said.

“Because PBS is America’s largest classroom, and AETN is Arkansas’s only statewide public service media outlet, we are well equipped to offer award-winning PBS and AETN educational resources to parents, teachers and communities to help improve student achievement.”

Panelists for the program include: Ralph Smith, managing director, National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading; Rich Huddleston, executive director, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families; Dr. Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury, president and CEO, The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation; Geania Dickey, program coordinator, Arkansas State University/Childhood Services; Tonya Russell, director, Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education, Arkansas Department of Human Services; Hedy Chang, director, Attendance Works; Jared Cleveland, assistant commissioner, Fiscal and Administrative Services, Arkansas Department of Education; Laveta Wills-Hale, network coordinator, Arkansas Out of School Network; Lavina Grandon, policy and education director, Rural Community Alliance; and Dr. Andre Guerrero, director of programs for language minority students, Arkansas Department of Education.

During the broadcast, a phone bank staffed by members of the AR-GLR advisory board, including representatives of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators, Arkansas Head Start Collaborative, ARKids Read, Arkansas State University/Childhood Services, Reach Out and Read, Rural Community Alliance and others, will be available for viewer questions about the campaign and childhood literacy.

Education research recognizes that proficiency in reading by the end of third grade enables students to shift from learning to read to reading to learn, and to master the more complex subject matter they encounter in the fourth grade curriculum. Most students who fail to reach this critical milestone falter in later grades and often drop out before earning a high school diploma.

“AR-GLR acknowledges that the academic success of all children will require a focus beyond school,” Sherece West-Scantlebury, president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, said.

“It will require engaged communities mobilized to remove barriers, expand opportunities and assist parents in fulfilling their roles as full partners in the success of their children.”

AR-GLR is part of the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, states and communities across the nation. The campaign in Arkansas seeks to improve school readiness, reduce chronic absence, stop summer learning loss and strengthen parent and community engagement.

Jancey Sheats hosts.

A 20-minute web extra featuring the entire panel will be available at following the Feb. 7 broadcast.

“Raising Arkansas’s Readers: The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading” was made possible by funding from Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.

The Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (AR-GLR) is a collaborative effort of parents, educators, policymakers and community partners to increase third-grade reading proficiency to increase graduation rates in Arkansas. Grade-level reading by the end of third grade is one of the most important predictors of school success. For more information, visit