Cortland County joins nationwide campaign for grade-level reading

The following is a republished press release from Cortland Area Communities That Care and not an article written by The Cortland submit a press release, community announcement or information about an upcoming event, email Editor Peter Blanchard at [email protected].

Cortland County is taking a big step toward improving student success by joining the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (GLR), a nationwide movement to increase early reading proficiency.

“Joining the campaign is an exciting opportunity to expand the work of Cortland Area Communities That Care Coalition. Our focus has always been prevention, and we see this is another way to prevent problem behaviors among youth in our community,” said Matt Whitman, Director of Cortland Area Communities That Care Coalition. “If our kids are reading at grade-level by third grade, they are on their way to graduating high school, making healthy choices, and having success later in life.”

Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a critical milestone toward high school graduation and success later life because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” National tests show that two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders (four-fifths of whom are from low-income families) are not reading proficiently. Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of high school and struggle throughout their lives.

One of the most important predictors of high school graduation is the ability to read at grade level by 3rd grade. Cortland County’s scores are lower in both 3rd grade reading (NYS ELA) and 3rd grade math proficiency than the New York State averages (32% and 42% respectively). In every school, with the exception of the Franklyn S. Barry School, the large majority of students tested below proficient for grade level reading.

In Cortland County, the Campaign is supported by Cortland Area Communities That Care Coalition and the Central New York Community Foundation.

The Community Solution Action Plan that Cortland County has developed focuses on addressing the three underlying challenges that can keep young children, especially those from low-income families, from learning to read proficiently:

  • School readiness — too many children are entering kindergarten already behind

  • School attendance — too many young children are missing too many days of school

  • Summer learning — too many children are losing ground academically over the summer

“We are thrilled to welcome the newest members of our growing network of communities,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “Their commitment to this vital mission comes at a critical time when nearly half of the children in the U.S. under the age of five (the years of greatest brain development) live in extreme poverty. Together, we will do what it takes to ensure our nation’s most vulnerable children have the support and opportunities they need to thrive.”

Membership in the GLR Communities Network gives Cortland County access to experts and policymakers focused on early literacy, assistance in addressing the challenges that keep many children from learning to read, and opportunities to share and learn best practices from communities across the country.

About the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Launched in May 2010, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative effort of funders, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that many more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. Since its launch, the campaign as grown to include more than 285 communities, representing 42 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with 2,100 local organizations (including 130 United Ways and 250 state and local funders. To learn more, visit and follow the movement on Twitter @readingby3rd.