Parents of young children in Charlotte will soon be introduced to a wealth of new programs to help teach their children to read.
Mecklenburg County parents will be able to sign up for a text message program offering actionable advice.
Doctors will begin giving out books during well-child checkups, and daycares will rotate bags of books among their families.
Tutoring programs will train legions of volunteers in active reading.
It’s all part of the scientific-based game plan developed by one of the city’s most promising academic endeavors: Read Charlotte.
Read Charlotte’s mission is to double the percentage of third-grade children in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools who are proficient in reading, from less than 40 percent to 80 percent by 2025.
They’re funded with $5.5 million from a number of funders, including Charlotte’s big banks and The Belk Foundation. Read Charlotte doesn’t run programs, but instead is a research hub and coordinator among existing organizations in the city.
If this sounds useless, it’s not. They’ve broken significant new ground in figuring out what works in teaching kids to read.
Executive Director Munro Richardson and his staff have spent the past year and a half digging into countless studies on what interventions and programs actually help kids learn how to read. What they found is that so many of the things teachers and schools try
Read Charlotte has narrowed the list down to eight things that are especially effective.
This matters because the ultimate goal is not just to help Charlotte, but to develop a strategy that other metro areas can use as well.
Now the game plan is to attack literacy Charlotte with a three-tiered approach implementing those strategies.
Some of the programs will be available across the county, in both affluent and poor neighborhoods.
- Things like Ready4K — the text-based program sending tips to parents on a regular basis — will be available county-wide. This should launch later this month and target children from birth to age 5. Active reading tutors will also be spread out throughout the county, often at libraries.
- Then, Read Charlotte has designated 58 elementary schools as high-priority. These are concentrated in the crescent of east, north and west Charlotte. The “Raising a Reader” program will enlist doctors in these areas to give out books to kids when they come in for check-ups. There will also be targeted summer reading programs here.
- Finally, Read Charlotte has set up a “Transformation Zone” in southwest Charlotte involving five elementary schools: Sterling, Starmount, Huntingtowne Farms, Montclaire and Nations Ford. Read Charlotte has set up action teams at each of the schools to use design thinking to come up with game plans. They’ve also enlisted churches, community agencies and even Mexican restaurants to help spread the word. Should things go well, there could be more transformation zones in other areas in the future.
Want to help?
Read Charlotte is looking for volunteers. Go here for more information.