A Great Plot Development: School District of Philadelphia Students Make Academic Gains

A five percentage point jump in PSSA reading scores, from 30-35%.

That means roughly 550 more students made it to the read-by-4th milestone at the start of this school year. Meaning now more than one out of every three are meeting this crucial benchmark before school instruction switches from teaching how to read to reading to learn new subjects. Students who don’t read on grade level by 4th grade have a tough time catching up, let alone do well the rest of their school career, graduate on time, and go on to college or great family-sustaining jobs.

But yesterday’s PSSA test scores, released by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, gives all 91 partners of the Read by 4th campaign—the largest, most comprehensive literacy push in the nation—good reason to be hopeful that our strategies rooted in research, practitioner experiences, community integration, and family engagement are working. As the School District of Philadelphia, our major partner, says: #HardWorkPaysOff.

We applaud the School District in ensuring our youngest learners receive expert teaching, and access to classroom libraries full of multilevel resources—the Right Books–to become the strong readers they need to be to succeed in school and in life.

The Read by 4th campaign, managed by the Free Library of Philadelphia, will work tirelessly to build on this momentum with the focused implementation of our six bold ideas, supporting: school readiness, home libraries, school attendance, quality instruction, summer slide prevention, and neighborhood Reading Captains.  These ideas are being brought to fruition through key initiatives led by Mayor Kenney’s administration; public, charter and catholic schools; a diverse network of nonprofit community partners; institutes of higher education and countless parents and other loving grownups.

What this means for our families is: free, easy-to-use apps and texting services that provide grownups with fun ideas to turn everyday moments into teachable ones; books at home that match our young children’s reading levels and personal interests; tips and support for making perfect attendance a weekly family goal; K-3 teachers energized by intensive literacy training and onsite coaching; summer camps and afterschool programs enriched by Read and Rise programming; Reading Captains who can connect families to the information and resources they need; and more Read-Together Zones in non-traditional spaces to create a city of learning landscapes.

This is all because we believe our children deserve the best shot at becoming strong readers–the foundation for an even brighter future.  Today, we know that that future is closer than it was as a result of the focused and strategic work of the School District and our many other partners.

Read by 4th is a citywide campaign bringing together an ever-growing coalition of partners to double the number of children reading at grade level by the start of 4th grade. We are families, educators, city officials, school district administrators, literacy specialists, youth program providers, neighborhood merchants, faith leaders, block captains, and much more, coming together as Philadelphians to embrace our collective responsibility to give all our children their best shot at success.