Mississippi Honored as Pacesetter for Early Literacy Work

Mississippi Honored as Pacesetter for Early Literacy Work
Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Recognizes the State of Mississippi as Exemplar

Jackson, Miss. (February 13, 2018) – The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) will recognize the Mississippi Campaign for Grade-Level Reading as a State Pacesetter for its efforts to improve early literacy and student success. The Campaign will also recognize Governor Phil Bryant for his leadership in making third-grade reading proficiency a priority of his administration’s education reform efforts.

The special recognitions will be presented at a reception on February 15 at 6 p.m. at the Old Capitol Inn in Jackson, Mississippi. The event is open to the media.

“This is a great honor for our state, and it validates our hard work to ensure Mississippi’s schoolchildren are reading at grade level by the time they complete third grade,” said Governor Bryant. “I am grateful to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for recognizing our efforts, and thank everyone involved in making this State Pacesetter award a reality.”

The State Pacesetter honor recognizes both Mississippi’s policy focus on grade-level reading and the launch of the Mississippi Campaign for Grade-Level Reading in 2016.

“Pacesetter Honors are among the highest awards presented to Campaign communities,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the CGLR. “We are very proud of the efforts in Mississippi to begin a statewide CGLR to support the Mississippi Literacy-Based Promotion Act. They remind us that we are seeing great progress and real results all across the country.”

When launching in 2016, the Mississippi CGLR consisted of two recognized communities—Gulfport and Lafayette/Oxford/University Reads. Both communities were finalists for the 2017 All American City-Grade Level Reading Award, and Gulfport was honored in 2016 for making measurable progress in school readiness for children from low-income families.

“We are extremely proud to receive this honor. It speaks to the commitment of the many organizations, individuals, and policy makers who share a vision that all children in Mississippi must read proficiently,” said Angela Rutherford, acting director for the Mississippi CGLR. “The Campaign’s recognition of our State is to be celebrated and shared with our many partners.”

Building on progress across the state and with the help of a small grants fund established by the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers, Hattiesburg became a recognized CGLR community on January 29, and an additional seven communities have signed Letters of Intent to join the Campaign—Indianola, Jackson, Starkville/Oktibbeha County, Southaven, Tupelo/Lee County, Vicksburg/Warren County, and Winona/Montgomery County.

The Pacesetter Award also recognizes progress achieved following passage of the Literacy-Based Promotion Act and the Early Learning Collaborative Act, both signed into law by Governor Bryant in 2013.

The Mississippi Department of Education’s implementation of the Literacy-Based Promotion Act is reaping dividends for Mississippi students. Mississippi showed a significant increase in fourth grade reading on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), bucking the national trend of flat or declining performance. Compared to the 2013 scores, Mississippi was one of 13 states that had a significant increase in fourth grade reading. Overall, reading proficiency increased from 21 to 26 percent.

“Mississippi is leading the nation in gains on the fourth grade NAEP assessment because of our schools’ commitment to higher academic standards, their intense focus on literacy and the hard work of students, teachers and administrators,” said Carey Wright, state Superintendent of Education. “These scores show we are making significant strides toward improving student outcomes. We are thankful for our partnership with the Campaign to assist Mississippi in building a strong foundation for children to be successful readers. We expect Mississippi to reap the benefits for years to come.”

The Early Learning Collaborative program, which provides funding to local communities to establish, expand, support and facilitate the successful implementation of quality early childhood education and development services is another key part of the state’s efforts to improve early literacy.

Mississippi’s CGLR has benefited from strong support from the philanthropic and public sectors, with at least 15 state funders supporting work in communities and statewide.

“Everyone has a role to play in efforts to make sure children are prepared for success later in life, and we know that if children don’t learn to read, they won’t be reading to learn,” said Sammy Moon, director of the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers. “One role for philanthropic leaders is to invest resources wisely in the creation of sound education policies, effective system reform efforts, and programs that have been proven to prepare children for reading success. Those investments are the focus of the Mississippi Campaign for Grade Level Reading Campaign’s Small Grants Fund.”

The fund is held at the Community Foundation for Mississippi. For more information about the Mississippi Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, contact Angela Rutherford at araines@olemiss.edu or 662-801-4484.

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About the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Launched in 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

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