|For immediate release
June 11, 2012
Andrea Woodhouse, SCCOE |
Phone: (408) 453-6824
SCCOE early learning efforts help San José receive
national honor for promoting youth reading skills
SAN JOSE – A collaboration with the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) has contributed to the city of San José being recognized by a national campaign for its efforts to address challenges that keep many low-income students from learning to read.
The city was named a Community Solutions PaceSetter by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a collaborative effort to ensure that low-income children nationwide succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, career, and active citizenship. The Campaign focuses on a critical predictor of school success and high school graduation: grade-level reading by the end of third grade.
"The City of San José is honored to receive the PaceSetter Award by the Campaign for Grade Level Reading," Mayor Chuck Reed said. "Our Early Learning Master Plan and other school readiness programs are key components of our SJ2020 initiative, which seeks to eliminate the achievement gap in San José."
"The Santa Clara County Office of Education is proud to partner with San José in early learning efforts," Dr. Charles Weis, County Superintendent of Schools said. "Early learning is an essential element of a learning continuum that starts at birth. High-quality early learning enables children to develop the skills they need to succeed in school and later in life."
San José and Santa Clara County have gathered longitudinal data on school readiness since 2004. Several efforts to increase school readiness rates in the area are underway:
- In fall 2010, the SCCOE launched its Early Learning Master Plan, a comprehensive plan to ensure that all children in Santa Clara County have access to quality early learning opportunities. The plan is a key component of SJ2020, the collaborative effort between the SCCOE, San José and dozens of nonprofits groups to close the achievement gap in the region within the decade.
- San José's Smart Start Initiative works to increase quality and access to early education through communication between pre-K and elementary schools, parent engagement, and use of redevelopment funds to increase the number of high-quality early education spaces. Any licensed program that meets Smart Start's quality standards can participate in the initiative.
- Several agencies are working to bring to Santa Clara County an Educare center – a high-quality, full-year, full-day program for 200 at-risk children ages 0-5 and their families. The site will serve as a "teaching hospital" for early learning quality in the county and house a professional development institute and family resource center.
- Through funding from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the county is planning to implement local transitional kindergarten programs (TK). TK provides 5-year-olds with a two-year kindergarten program to develop strong foundational skills for long-term academic success. The SCCOE has provided strategic planning, training, and technical assistance to school districts in the county to ensure the successful implementation of TK programs next fall.
The PaceSetter Honors recognize communities that are "leading by example" to solve one or more of the challenges that can undermine early literacy: chronic absenteeism, summer learning loss and a lack of school readiness. In many cases, the PaceSetters still have much work to do. But their efforts provide other communities with promising models to replicate, as well as inspiration for working toward their own creative solutions.
Beyond the honors, San José's plan for improving early literacy makes it a charter member in a national movement of local leaders, states, nonprofits, and foundations putting a stake in the ground on third-grade reading. Third grade marks the point when children shift from learning to read and begin reading to learn. Students who haven't mastered reading by then are more likely to get stuck in a cycle of academic failure, drop out of school, and struggle throughout their lives.
San José is one of 124 cities, counties and towns nationwide that has committed to increase significantly the number of low-income students who read at grade level by the end of third grade.
The cities and counties involved in the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Community Network are adopting a collective impact strategy, engaging the full community around the goal of supporting low-income children from birth through third grade. The plans involve schools but acknowledge that they alone cannot address the myriad challenges that keep children from learning to read. The strategies include ensuring that children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed, attend school regularly and keep learning through the summer months.
The network gives San José access to an online help desk, peer-learning opportunities, meetings with national experts and policymakers and a foundation registry designed to expand and replicate successful programs.
"There is no single silver bullet," said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign and a senior vice president at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. "Each of these PaceSetter cities is contributing one more piece of the puzzle."
San José will be honored at a national conference in Denver June 30-July 2 when the full network of communities will gather with nonprofits, foundations and federal and state policymakers. Several states will also be honored as PaceSetters, and 10 to 15 communities will receive the All-America City award, which is tied this year to the reading campaign.
For media inquiries about the Campaign or the Grade-Level Reading Community Network conference and award ceremony from June 30-July 2 in Denver, contact Phyllis Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 656-0348 or 202-413-2247, or Stacey Mink at email@example.com or (410)962-5707.
Date last updated: June 11, 2012