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Guardians of Atlanta’s Future Thought Leadership

Investing in the science of reading can end Atlanta’s illiteracy crisis and establish a national model for reform

By Rebecca Parshall, Senior Program Officer, Learn4Life

A bold, new commitment to literacy for all its children is underway in Marietta. The goal of Literacy and Justice for All is to eradicate illiteracy by investing in the science of reading from birth through 3rd grade. Literacy and Justice for All partners are working to ensure child-facing adults have the knowledge, skills, and agency to implement:  

  • Healthy brain development in pre-natal care
  • Early language and literacy best practices in birth through age 5 
  • The science of reading instruction in Kindergarten through 3rd grade

Deep connections for babies with adults in their lives in language rich environments, preschool practices that foster the foundations necessary for learning to happen, and explicit reading instruction based on the science are required for children to be proficient readers by the end of third grade. By forming a community where every adult knows what is needed and how to provide it, we will create a literacy ecosystem in support of every child. 

Reading proficiency, is a means to an end – and that end is equity. As Comer Yates, Executive Director of Atlanta Speech School said, “In the end, this is about every child’s right to decide their own future or having their future decided for them. We know what to do, and Marietta has demonstrated the singular will to do it.”

Beyond seeking radical impact and outcomes for the students of Marietta, this investment in the science of literacy will serve to establish a model of reform for the country. As a regional convener, Learn4Life will:

  • Collect and analyze data in order to accelerate change and end metro Atlanta’s illiteracy crisis
  • Focus on continuous improvement with professional development providers and practitioners to maximize and scale the impact of this work,   
  • Leverage findings across metro Atlanta so best practices can be replicated and accelerated

Third-grade reading is one of six indicators along the cradle to career continuum that helps Learn4Life partners understand the educational health and progress of metro Atlanta. “One of the reasons we track regional third grade reading proficiency is because it’s highly predictive of whether students will reach other critical milestones in the cradle to career continuum. The work and learning from this initiative will help fulfill the promise of universal literacy for all students in metro Atlanta,” said Dr. Ken Zeff, Executive Director of Learn4Life.    

Learn more about Literacy and Justice for All

The United Way of Greater Atlanta, through the support of the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation, recently awarded grants to six organizations, including: 

  • Atlanta Speech School’s Rollins Center for Language & Literacy – to provide training and professional development in the areas of healthy brain development, language, literacy and the science of reading
  • Marietta City Schools – to implement professional development and provide resources for K-3 classrooms, and to support Marietta-based outreach in birth through 5 and across the community
  • Learn4Life – to support the collaborative and shared learning for the region  
  • Cobb Collaborative  – to support early literacy ambassadors and trauma-informed training
  • Kennesaw State University – to support professional development within early childhood education settings throughout the city of Marietta
  • Quality Care for Children – to support professional development within early childhood education settings throughout the City of Marietta

 

This is sponsored content.

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