US Cities Pledge to Ensure Children Can Read by 3rd Grade

Over the last few days we’ve honored World Food Day and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Last month, alongside International Literacy Day, the UN released statistics that showed how difficult it is to fight poverty and sickness in nations around the world where illiteracy is rampant.

Some notable numbers that show the magnitude of illiteracy on a worldwide scale are:

  • Almost 800 million people are unable to read and write.
  • Of the illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds are female.
  • In girls and women, HIV/AIDS spreads twice as fast among those who are illiterate.
  • Babies who are born to literate mothers have a fifty-percent better chance of living to five-years-old compared to those born to an illiterate mother.


Recently, 150 cities and counties in the US pledged “to ensure that children can read by the end of third grade.” Cities large and small are embracing the movement to increase literacy as other educational reforms, like changing to a digital curriculum, won’t be of any use if the students don’t have reading skills.

In the article, “More than 100 cities, counties agree to push early literacy,” Washington Post writer Valerie Strauss shares the following statistics that have educators signing up for a change in literacy standards in early education:

  • Children who don’t read well by the end of the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers.
  • Children from poor families who don’t read proficiently early are 13 times more likely not to finish high school than good readers who never lived in poverty.
  • 53% of fourth graders from low-income families who attend high-poverty schools did not read at the basic level in the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2009. 85 percent didn’t read at the proficient level.

Yesterday I shared a link for an anti-poverty activity by the New York Times’ education blog, “The Learning Network,” on the LifeBound education blog. You can read more about it by following this link:

Also, Maureen Breeze shared ideas for how both parents and students can fight illiteracy in their own communities. Follow this link to read her post:




“More than 100 cities, counties agree to push early literacy” by Valerie Strauss. 17 October 2011. The Washington Post. Accessed on 17 October 2011. <>


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