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Idaho Reads!

What is Idaho Reads!

Idaho Reads! is a coalition comprised of community-based groups that are working to improve reading proficiency in Idaho. Idaho Reads! has a historic opportunity to ensure that every child in Idaho receives the gift of reading so they can be successful in school, work and life. We believe every child in Idaho has the right to read and it is the responsibility of all the adults in their life to make sure they do, therefore we have set the following goals:

  1. Increase the percent of Idaho fourth graders who are proficient in reading  to 51% by 2019
  2. Increase the percent of Idaho kindergartners who score at or above benchmark on the Fall IRI to 67% by 2019
  3. Increase the percent of Idaho 3rd graders who score at or above benchmark on the Spring IRI to 81% by 2019

Why does this work matter?

What has Idaho Reads! accomplished?

Members of Idaho Reads! sponsored the 1st Annual Idaho Reading and Literacy Summit in November 2013 that drew nearly 400 people. Members of Idaho Reads! are serving on a technical committee established by the Idaho Legislature to look at ways to strengthen the Idaho reading law. Idaho Reads! has started discussions with the media about launching a public information campaign aimed at improving reading proficiency across the state. Members of Idaho Reads! are working to get early learning programs adopted in Idaho so kids are ready to learn by kindergarten. They are also looking at sponsoring the 2nd Annual Reading and Literacy Summit in late 2014. Idaho Reads! is working in south central Idaho and southeast Idaho with two committed groups of stakeholders to set goals and implement strategies to increase reading proficiency in those communities.

Who is Idaho Reads!

Download the Early Learning Primer Guide. Click Here.

School Readiness

Just as there is an achievement gap in school performance, there is a school readiness gap that separates disadvantaged children from their more affluent peers. As early as 18 months, low-income children begin to fall behind in vocabulary development and other skills critical for school success. Parents play an enormous role in closing this gap, as do daycare providers, pediatricians, preschools programs, and the broader community.

Research shows that learning begins long before a child enters kindergarten. Children, even infants soak up words, rhymes, songs, and images. Vocabulary development is particularly important. A child’s health, and the timely recognition of developmental delays, is another critical aspect of school readiness. Doctors, care providers, and preschool teachers play a key role.

By the numbers
of low-income children have no children’s books at home.
Poor children hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers.
By age 2, poor children are already behind their peers in listening, counting, and other skills essential to literacy.
A child’s vocabulary as early as age 3 can predict third grade reading achievement.
By age 5, a typical middle-class child recognizes 22 letters of the alphabet, compared to 9 for a child from a low-income family.

Who can help

  1. Birth to Five Policy Alliance—The organization works to identify and build champions for early childhood policy, provides state-based advocacy, and disseminates research and policy analysis.
  2. Build Initiative—This nonprofit helps states construct integrated, coordinated systems of programs, policies, and services for young children and their families.
  3. Center for Public Education—This offshoot of the National School Boards Association has done considerable work developing pre-K programs and aligning them with the elementary grades.
  4. Child Trends—This nonprofit, nonpartisan research center does extensive research and analysis on early childhood development and school readiness.
  5. Coalition for Community Schools—This coalition advocates for community schools and for strategies that use local agencies and nonprofits to supplement school efforts.
  6. First Five Years Fund—This nonprofit provides knowledge, data, and advocacy, helping federal policymakers make the right.
  7. Ounce of Prevention Fund—This national organization develops early childhood programs, trains providers, and advocates for policies.
  8. Ready Nation —This initiative helps develop business coalitions supporting good practice and policy around early childhood.
  9. Zero to Three—This organization informs, trains, and supports professionals, policymakers, and parents.

Chronic Absences

Chronic absence is a measure of how much school a student misses for any reason. It is a broader measure than truancy, which only tracks unexcused absences. Starting in the early grades, the percentage of students missing 10 percent of the school year can reach remarkably high levels, and these early absences can rob students of the time they need to develop literacy skills. Tracking chronic absence is a data-driven solution that can be built into federal grant applications and can be an integral part of parent engagement programs. It can be a goal for a funder’s investment—or a measure of a grantee’s success. Chronic absence can also tip off communities to families and neighborhoods in need of further support, since poor school attendance can be an early warning sign of challenging social, economic, and health conditions.

By the Numbers
1 IN 10
One in 10 kindergarten students miss nearly a month of school every year. In some districts, it runs as high as 1 in 3.
Kindergarteners who miss 10 percent of school days have lower academic performance when they reach first grade. Reading scores for Latino children were most seriously affected.
Among children from low-income families, who lack the resources to make up lost time, chronic absence in kindergarten translated into lower fifth grade achievement.

Who can help

Attendance Works is a national and state-level initiative that promotes awareness of the important role that school attendance plays in achieving academic success. Its website offers resources and toolkits for those who want to help ensure that every school in every state not only tracks chronic absence data for its individual students but also intervenes to help those children and schools.

The GLR Campaign and Attendance Works are partnering on a Call to Action for Superintendents. Join us now!

They are also among 40 partners in Attendance Awareness Month. See the new Count Us In! toolkit developed for 2014. And  See a Network in Action Summary of how GLR communities contributed in 2013.

Summer Learning Loss

Research spanning 100 years has proven that students lose ground academically when they are out of school for the summer. The problem is particularly acute among low-income students who lose an average of more than two months in reading achievement in the summer, which slows their progress toward third grade reading proficiency. And it exacerbates the achievement gap with their middle-class peers.

Funders, policymakers, and community leaders can help schools and local organizations address summer learning loss by supporting strong programs engaging more children in summer learning opportunities. Transcending the punitive and remedial model of summer school, summer learning’s new form is a blend of core academic learning, hands-on activities, arts, sports, technology, and meaningful relationships.

Summer Learning Day, celebrated on June 20 this year, is a national advocacy platform that can help the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading build awareness and inspire action for summer learning and reading across the network of Campaign communities. This year, the Campaign and National Summer Learning Association are challenging communities to act on one or more of the following six priorities:

  • Get healthy and get smart. We will offer nutritious meals and physical activities daily as a part of summer learning experiences in libraries, schools, camps, and other locations across our community.
  • Make every word count. We will intentionally integrate daily reading and other literacy-related activities into summer experiences to create language-rich environments for PreK-3rd grade students throughout our community.
  • Start young. We will focus on expanding opportunities during the summer before kindergarten to ensure that children form strong attendance habits and start school ready for success.
  • Follow the numbers. We will engage our school district in efforts to identify particular needs and track the progress of our children over the summer months and beyond.
  • Determine demand. We will assess the local demand for and supply of high-quality summer learning opportunities to better understand gaps in service for children who need it the most.
  • Engage families. We will educate and equip families to understand the benefits of quality summer learning, find local summer opportunities, and support summer learning at home.


October 2010
IVC began discussing with the SDE the Early Warning Report on Grade Level Reading (GLR)

September 2011
IVC co-founded the Idaho Reading Task Force

December 2011
Co-hosted Policy Forum on Grade Level Reading at BSU

August 2012
Began partnering with the ICF to establish Grade Level Reading Communities in Idaho

November 2012
IVC is awarded a grant for outreach to communities in SW Idaho on GLR

April 2013
Submitted a letter of intent to join the GLR Campaign

May 2013
IVC partnered with Concordia Law School to compile a comparison report on all third grade reading policies nationwide

June 2013
Began meeting with District Leaders in Magic Valley about GLR

August 2013
Completed the Strategic Plan for the Idaho Reading Task Force

October 2013
IVC is designated the Idaho State Lead for the GLR Campaign

November 2013
IVC co-sponsors the Idaho Reading & Literacy Summit

March 2014
IVC testifies at the Idaho House Education Committee on GLR

April 2014
Idaho Reading Task Force re-brands as Idaho Reads!

May 2014
IVC is appointed to the Governor’s Task Force on Education Literacy Workgroup