United Way Leaders United Quarterly - Summer - Page 2



WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
Only one out of every three students in
Metro Nashville Public Schools is able
to read on grade level by the end of third
grade, a challenge the city has faced for
more than two decades.
Why does third grade reading matter? It’s the point when
students go from learning to read to reading to learn.
Studies show that children not reading on grade level by
this point struggle to learn across subjects and rarely
catch up. Kids not reading on grade level by third grade
are also four times more likely to drop out of high school
and are at a higher risk of arrest or incarceration. As a
community, we must do more to support our kids from
birth all the way to graduation.
Ninety percent of a child’s brain develops before age
five, with the most significant development occurring
from birth to age three. Kids without high-quality early
childhood experiences are 25 percent more likely to drop
out of school and 60 percent less likely to attend college.
Quality child care is expensive, with some waiting lists up
to two years long—a burden for even the most affluent
families. As Nashville grows and child care becomes
harder to attain, this gap will continue to widen.
Another critical piece to learning to read is access to
a variety of engaging books. But half of all elementary
school classrooms have fewer than 100 books with many
having none at all, according to the Blueprint for Early
Childhood Success. This is particularly detrimental for
kids who come from homes with limited access to books.
If children struggling to read on grade level are moved
forward through the system without intervention, they
are even more likely to fall behind after graduation
increasing their chances of poverty or incarceration. We
are partnering to double the number of children reading
on grade level by 2025. It’s a big goal, but one we can—
we must—achieve. Our kids deserve an equal chance at a
bright future.
2
United Way of M e t ropol i t an Nas hv i l l e
Studies show that kids not
reading on grade level by
third grade are four times
more likely to drop out
of high school and are at
a higher risk of arrest or
incarceration.





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