In Fort Worth, a New Literacy Coalition Wants All Third Graders Reading at Grade Level

Kids who read at grade level are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college.

By Stella M. Chávez October 11, 2016 9:30 am, ,

From KERA News

Second-grade teacher Anna Cazares stands in front of her students at Oakhurst Elementary. They’re reading a book about a boy who gets a dog named Gus.

After the students have read the book once, they go back and read it again, this time stopping every time they hear a short vowel.

“Ken,” reads Cazares.

“Ken,” repeat the students.

“Ohhh, what sound do we hear?” she asks them.

“Eh, Eh, Eh, Eh, Eh …,” respond the students.

The district is happy with what’s happening at this dual-language school northeast of downtown Fort Worth. Students are outperforming their peers on reading tests, and the new Fort Worth literacy partnership wants to figure out if reading strategies like these is one of the reasons why students here are doing so well.

The group’s goal: to get 100 percent of the district’s third-graders reading at grade level by 2025. Kids who read at grade level are more likely to graduate from high school and go to college.

That’s critical, not just for school districts, but cities, which need a well-educated workforce. That idea really hit home for Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price recently, when a company decided not to move there.

“We were getting very positive vibrations from them,” Price said. “And at the last minute, they decided they were going to Austin instead of Fort Worth, and I was pretty taken back.”

Price wanted to know why they weren’t sold on Fort Worth.

“They said ‘We love Fort Worth. We thought everything was great, but we have to tell you that we’re worried about your education pipeline.’” Price said. “They’d been doing their homework and they said, ‘We’re going to Austin because Austin has stronger public education.’ ”

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