Monday May 22, 2017

Mission of ReadOKC is to create culture of literacy

Dr. Seuss has many words of wisdom, but none more so than what he says about reading: The more you read, the more things you’ll know. The more you know, the more places you’ll go. To focus on developing a culture of reading for Oklahoma City Public Schools students and the community, the OKCPS Compact recently launched ReadOKC.

The Oklahoma City Public Schools Compact, made up of the City of OKC, the Greater OKC Chamber, United Way of Central Oklahoma, The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools and Oklahoma City Public Schools, organized last year to assist OKCPS with key areas that require resources and community assistance. Literacy and reading was identified as the group’s first project and evolved into ReadOKC.

The mission of ReadOKC is to create a culture of reading and literacy in Oklahoma City, beginning with our students. As part of the Great Commitment (the OKCPS strategic plan), OKCPS is working to ensure every student will meet literacy and numeracy criteria for successful transitions throughout elementary school. This happens through reading, both in school and out, and requires the engagement of students, families and the entire community.

A ReadOKC task force formed late last year with about 50 community and business leaders meeting to develop a comprehensive reading plan to initially focus on pre-K through 6th grade OKCPS students, broadening to all grades and all community members. Education partners from Scholastic Literacy Resources (book fairs and so much more), myOn reader (think Netflix for books, digital reading and automated comprehensive tracking) and the Metropolitan Library System, (who has developed an easy access library card for OKCPS students that only requires a student ID) have joined many other community partners to push visibility, outreach and access for ReadOKC.

Along with ReadOKC, a summer reading event has launched called, Get in the Game. Students have been given a goal of reading 1,200 minutes this summer, which equates to 20 minutes per day. The goal of Get in the Game is to reach students where they are, whether it is at summer school, a metro library, Boys and Girls Clubs, at church or a Food Bank summer feeding site. The opportunities are endless and community organizations who reach kids in the summer will play a huge part in the success of this program.

Data shows that kids who read during the summer greatly reduce “summer slide,” which is a loss of reading skills. Summer slide can happen across demographics, but the impact of summer slide on students from low-income households with access to books is remarkable. Those who read show a 24.15 percent gain vs a nearly 10 percent loss of reading skills by low-income students without access to books.

It’s a fact that students’ academic success is greatly increased when they read, and reading to learn is critical. Reading because you love it is optimal as it expands an individual’s world view in a way that we need for all our citizens. ReadOKC allows the entire community to be part of our children’s, so please Get in the Game!

Read Mary Mélon’s original NewsOK editorial.

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