By Kansas Governor Sam Brownback
Reading opens up imaginative worlds for children. It holds the key to the vast wealth of knowledge the world has to offer. Without reading, children are limited to the confines of their zip code, economic status, and place-in-time.
Unfortunately, only 20 percent of low-income Kansas students are reading proficiently, and these students present a much higher risk of dropping out of high school than their peers. This is unacceptable. The Kansas Reading Roadmap was established to help children transition from learning-to-read to reading-to-learn. This milestone must be achieved in order for children to expand their academic and personal horizons, and break the cycle of generational poverty.
Reading Roadmap operates in over 40 schools, and targets kindergarten through third grade students who are struggling to master basic literacy skills needed to achieve reading comprehension.
The Kansas Reading Roadmap is dramatically improving the literacy rates of Kansas children and giving them the skills they need to succeed in school. An independent study conducted by the University of Kansas confirms this success with 57 percent of Reading Roadmap third graders reading at benchmark, compared to the statewide average of 35 percent. Children who could barely read at all are now far surpassing their peers, a true testament to the success of the Reading Roadmap program in Kansas.
By partnering with teachers, non-profits and parents, Reading Roadmap provides a comprehensive approach to reading through classroom initiatives, school leadership, and afterschool programs. This innovative program strives to not only provide at-risk children personalized academic assistance, but inspire them to develop a life-long appetite for reading and learning.
Perhaps the most compelling success story comes from Fairfield Elementary in Langdon, Kansas. Langdon is a small, rural town with a student body where the majority of students qualify for free-and-reduced lunches. In the two years since it implemented the Reading Roadmap model, Fairfield saw 92 percent of the children tested reading at benchmark levels, almost double the number before the program began. This unprecedented level of literacy further proves the success of the Reading Roadmap program, and the measureable benefit it has on the lives’ of Kansas children.
We want our Kansas children to have every opportunity for success. Kansas Reading Roadmap is proving a valuable tool in helping at-risk children take charge of their academic success, and break the cycle of generational poverty. We will continue to work with educators and community partners to ensure children in Kansas receive the resources they need to succeed both in the classroom and in life. After all, in the words of Dr. Seuss, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, and the more places you’ll go.”