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Kansas Reading Roadmap Targets Third Grade

A new reading initiative focused on rural schools hopes to promote 3rd grade reading to better prepare students for the future.

The Kansas Reading Roadmap, a project of Gov. Sam Brownback, plans to work with 45 schools statewide to give 3rd graders a reading boost. Organizers point to research that says reading proficiency by 3rd grade is key for ensuring students graduate high school college and career ready.

The program has three parts:

  • Local educators are trained in the Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports program, which helps schools analyze students' test scores, use research-based programs and resources, and match those to students' needs (training provided by Kansas Technical Assistance Systems Network).
  • Schools will use Families and Schools Together, which works to strengthen families by promoting parent nurturing, improving relationships and increasing children's success in school.
  • Save the Children, an international nonprofit that works in disadvantaged communities in the United States, will offer an after-school literacy program (funded by the Kansas Department for Children and Families).
Andrew Hysell, the project's director, said he's trying to weave those three initiatives together to create an outcome greater than the sum of the parts.
"Each does a really good job at a specific thing," he said. "The idea is by coordinating groups with specific expertise, we can get the whole school outcome. These kinds of groups usually don't work together."

The Kansas Reading Roadmap will cost about $200,000 to implement in the 45 schools, which Hysell hopes will inform school improvement efforts in the state's rural schools. The program will be rolled out this year, and the University of Kansas will begin evaluating it during the 2014-15 school year.

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