MUSCATINE, Iowa–As the 2020-2021 schoolyear draws to a close, Aligned Impact Muscatine County has already started work on how to help students achieve academic success well into the future. Recently, the organization introduced the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to the county and has begun partnering with numerous other organizations to help ensure students meet grade-level reading benchmarks by the end of third grade.
Because attaining grade-level reading skills by the end of third grade has shown to increase students’ chances of doing well in school and graduating from high school, AIM has had a SMART Target focused on improving third grade reading proficiency for some time. Once the organization receives proficiency data from third graders from this spring, they will set a more precise goal for how much they would like to improve reading proficiency by 2025.
Incorporating the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading into these efforts will help bolster their efforts. By partnering with many local groups, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Muscatine County, Flickinger Learning Center, ISU Extension and Outreach Muscatine County, the Muscatine Art Center, Muscatine Community College, Muscatine Community School District, the Muscatine Community Y, Muscatine County Conservation, the Musser Public Library, and Trinity Muscatine Public Health, AIM will have opportunities to access many resources to help students and to coordinate their efforts with others already working to improve students’ reading ability.
This summer, AIM has already started cooperating with Muscatine Community School District to help with SPARK, a free five-week summer program designed to help students retain learning in reading, writing, and math, get a good lunch, and explore fun hands-on activities. AIM looks forward to helping this program, offered for the first time this year, by coordinating with other local organizations to give students fun interactive learning activities they might not otherwise experience.
Because the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading operates nationwide, AIM and its partners will receive additional resources as well to help them in their work of increasing reading proficiency in area students. These tools include access to experts in improving school readiness and success, research about best practices in improving reading ability, professional development opportunities, possible funding sources, and advocacy for policies that promote student success.
In 2019, 61% of Muscatine Community School District third graders read at or above grade level. By implementing the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and working with community partners to make early literacy a priority, AIM hopes to raise the number of proficient students in the years to come, and to share successful strategies with other area school districts.