In a city where low literacy levels ‘take your breath away,’ here’s how one Detroit school is teaching third-graders to read
What happens when 5,000 students leave third grade without reading on grade level— year after year? That is the challenge facing the city of Detroit, Michigan.
Unfortunately, Detroit is far from alone in this third-grade literacy crisis. In fact, Nashville’s numbers rival Detroit’s. With only 28.8 percent of Metro Nashville Public Schools students on track in English Language Arts , 4500 students left third grade last year without achieving reading proficiency.
Early literacy must be treated as a top, city-wide priority. That’s why, in the month of October, the Scarlett Family Foundation will be releasing a new data tool that will allow our community to explore the third grade literacy challenges facing Nashville.
Chalkbeat Detroit is highlighting how city schools are working to improve third grade literacy:
“Three boys sat down around a table at Detroit Premier Academy and opened up their picture books. It was the beginning of the school year, and the race was on.
Their teacher, Whitney Vanatta, showed them an index card with the letters ‘Ck’ written on it.
“‘Ck’ says ‘kuh,’” she said.
“Kuh,” they echoed.
The lesson was designed to help the students learn the basic building blocks of English, sound by sound. It wouldn’t be out of place in any kindergarten classroom.
But these weren’t kindergartners — they were third-graders who were badly behind in reading.
They are far from alone. When Michigan’s controversial new “read or flunk” law goes into effect this year, as many as 5,000 third-graders who are reading on a second-grade level or below will be at risk of being held back.