It's hosted by the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and will bring together parents, educators, community leaders and state policymakers.
The goal of the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is that by 2020, all Arkansas children will read at grade level by the end of third grade. Arkansas is currently ranked 37th in the nation in fourth grade reading proficiency according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In a report entitled "The Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading: A Call to Action," the Campaign found that 30-percent of Black children, 20-percent of Hispanic children, and 18-percent of White children do not read at grade level according to the state's Benchmark exam.
"Third grade marks the shift from learning to read to reading to learn. Proficiency by the end of third grade is critical to our students' future academic success and the future success of our state," said Dr. Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury, president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. "We must make third grade reading a state priority to guarantee a better future for all Arkansas children and families and the Arkansas economy. This convening of more than 200 Arkansans is evidence of the increasing importance of grade level reading in our state."
The two-day Action Summit will open on Friday at 1:00 pm with a keynote address by Ralph Smith, managing director of the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and senior vice president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. "We are very pleased our statewide campaign is being recognized and supported by the national campaign," said Rich Huddleston, executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, co-sponsors of the Action Summit. "Aligning and sharing our efforts in Arkansas with the powerful network of more than 100 communities around the country that are tackling reading proficiency by the end of third grade will get us that much closer to achieving our goal of reading proficiency for the children of our state."
A town hall meeting this afternoon at three o'clock will allow participants to speak directly with education, business and policy leaders. Town hall panelists at the Action Summit are Dr. Richard Abernathy, executive director of the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators; State Senator Joyce Elliot, vice chair of the Senate Education Committee; Dr. Tom Kimbrell, commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Education; Donna Morey, president of the Arkansas Education Association; and Randy Zook, president/CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.
On Saturday at 12:30 p.m., the Campaign will recognize Arkansas leaders who have made outstanding contributions to early reading in the state.
Click here for a full outline of the Action Summit schedule.