BALTIMORE, MD. (February 1, 2013) –
Today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake issued an executive order to allow full-time City employees to take up to two hours of approved paid permission leave per week to serve as volunteer reading tutors in Baltimore schools for the City’s Third Grade Reads initiative. The nationally-recognized effort uses an evidence-based tutoring curriculum, measures progress and results, and seeks to have students achieve a one-grade-level increase in reading skills, on average, after 26 hours of tutoring.
“The research is clear—when a child is not reading proficiently at the beginning of her or his 4th grade school year, that is a strong predictor that the child may eventually drop out of school,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “We need to find ways to allow more people to take part in our effort to support our children and change the course of their lives."
An employee interested in participating in the initiative must complete an application, obtain approval from their supervisor, and send the application to the City’s chief service officer. After completing a brief online orientation session, the applicant must register as a volunteer with the Baltimore City Public School System and submit to a criminal background check. Volunteers will take part in a 45-minute in-person training prior to beginning their service as a tutor.
Baltimore’s Grade Level Reading Campaign is a combined effort of the Mayor’s Youth Cabinet and Baltimore’s Coalition for Grade Level Reading, whose members represent diverse local and state government agencies, nonprofit and community organizations, and the philanthropic community. While all these members act as a resource for Baltimore’s Third Grade Reads initiative, Third Grade Reads has three key partners: Baltimore City Public Schools, the Family League of Baltimore City, and Reading Partners.
Baltimore was recently named an “All America City” by the National Civic League in recognition of the City’s comprehensive plan to bridge the gap between at-risk students and other learners. Third Grade Reads represents the civic engagement component of the plan, demonstrating that citizen energy, when channeled toward measurable results, can contribute significantly to the City’s goal of ensuring that more children are proficient readers by the end of third grade.
According to the Maryland School Assessment, 35% of Baltimore third grade students are not reading proficiently. Third Grade Reads targets 250 kids who are reading below proficiency at four local elementary schools (Edgecombe Circle Elementary, Callaway Elementary, Friendship Academy at Cherry Hill, and Westport Academy) and provides them with one-on-one volunteer literacy tutoring for two hours a week.
Anyone interested in participating in Third Grade Reads can visit www.thirdgradereads.com.