Turn the Page KC is one of 30 communities across the nation to be honored with a 2014 Pacesetter award by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading following significant improvement in the overall reading levels of students attending summer programs in Kansas City, Missouri
“Summer time should not be a time to step away from reading,” Mayor Sly James said. “It should be a time to read even more. Reading books is a great pastime for kids learning to read, and I’m pleased that Kansas City is a Pacesetter and has earned this award.”
Turn the Page KC collaborates with more than 50 partner Kansas City organizations that work closely to focus on the importance of reading at grade level by 3rd grade. Turn the Page KC also was recognized for its impressive Page Turner Program, a corps of 600 reading volunteers who work to promote school readiness.
In the summer, Turn the Page KC provides trained volunteers to read with kids at summer academic programs. Turn the Page KC’s summer partners include LINC, Upper Room, Freedom Schools and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City. Turn the Page KC also helped inform parents of summer learning options for their kids.
Turn the Page Kansas City plans to expand the program this summer by training about 50 college students and reading tutors and incorporating them into summer programs across the city.
Ralph Smith, the managing director of the Grade-Level Reading Campaign, said: “Turn the Page KC is to be commended as a national leader in this critically important effort. We’re recognizing the communities that can demonstrate they’re really making a measurable difference in the lives of our children.”
Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a milestone on a child’s path to high school graduation and later success because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”
National tests show that two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders, and four-fifths of those from low-income families, are not reading proficiently. Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of school and struggle throughout their lives.
Turn the Page KC is part of The Grade-Level Reading Communities Network operating in 167 communities, including 2,100 local organizations, in 41 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In joining the network, the communities develop formal plans to address three underlying challenges that can keep young children, especially those from low-income families, from learning to read:
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.
The Pacesetter honorees were selected from among 76 communities in the Grade-Level Reading Communities Network, which is dedicated to narrowing the gap between children from low-income families and their more affluent peers. According to the U.S. Department of Education, that gap has widened significantly in recent years, with 80 percent of low-income kids failing to read proficiently in 4th grade compared to 49 percent of their more affluent peers.
In 2011, Mayor Sly James launched a citywide initiative to focus on third-grade reading, identifying it as the most important economic development initiative for the city. This initiative has evolved into the 501c3 organization Turn the Page KC. The organization’s vision is that all third graders in Kansas City will read at grade level or above. Turn the Page KC has mobilized the Kansas City community to collaborate on initiatives to improve school attendance, improve summer learning opportunities and help children start school kindergarten-ready. Over 600 community members have joined the organization’s volunteer Page Turner Program, reading with Kansas City students for one hour each week.
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.
Note to editors and reporters: For more information about Turn the Page KC, contact Mike English at or . For media inquiries about Grade Level Reading Campaign, contact Norman Black at or .