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The Skanner News
Published: 19 June 2013

Mayor McGinn is touting a new program, Read and Rise, to push students toward literacy by third grade.

The twist with this educational initiative is that it reaches out to parents – with training workshops, reading materials and training outlines for parents to take home.

The program is set to start this fall. Officials say the results ill be "closely monitored to determine whether this investment is having an impact on the success of local students

"We know from research that students who are not reading at grade level by the third grade are much more likely to drop out of school," McGinn said in a statement. "This new program will help give parents the skills they need to support their kids as they reach this critical milestone."

Read and Rise, a program created by the children's book publishers Scholastic, http://www.scholastic.com/aboutscholastic/communityreadandrise.htm  in Houston saw the Urban League partnering with the Houston Independent School District over more than a decade to train parents on how to raise their families' literacy levels.

According to an assessment conducted by Scholastic, twelve elementary schools identified and served by the Urban League were able to improve their test scores and state rankings through the program.

In Houston, Read and Rise was specifically designed to improve education achievement for low-income families and chronically underperforming schools.

IN its success, Scholastic specifically calls out the work of Dr. Suzanne Carothers, a New York University professor who helped develop it.

McGinn says the Read and Rise workshops will roll out in partnership with schools and community-based organizations that will be named in July.

The program will focus on communities and schools with a high proportion of children who are low-income and who may not have the language, cognitive and early literacy skills necessary for kindergarten readiness and third grade reading success.

The family training workshops are to be held in the evenings or on weekends, with literacy instructors working with children while family support worker provide training for adults. Training modules cover five key components of literacy development, including: oral language; vocabulary; phonological awareness; awareness of print conventions, and alphabet knowledge.

"Parents are their children's 'first teachers,'" said Office for Education Director Holly Miller. "Many of the skills that kids need to develop early in order to reach that critical third grade reading milestone are skills they learn at home, from their parents who are their first teachers. Read and Rise will help us to ensure that all parents have the tools they need to support their kids as they learn to read."

The effort is based on a Houston model which the mayor's office links to a higher graduation rate there.

Seattle's Read and Rise will operate on a two-year pilot basis.

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