San Joaquin County third-graders still lag in reading

education classroom

STOCKTON — Nearly three-quarters of San Joaquin County third-graders still don’t read at grade level, according to a report by the Beyond Our Gates program at the University of the Pacific

The university released its annual Literacy Report Card Monday. The report revealed that while its Reading by Third initiative has scored some successes in education, it still has a long way to go to meet its overall goal of all third-graders reading at grade level.

Results show just 27 percent of San Joaquin third-graders demonstrated grade-level proficiency on literacy portions of the California Assessment of Student Progress and Performance. That test was  test introduced this year to measure student achievement against California’s new Common Core standards. Statewide, 38 percent of third-graders met the standard.

“We understood that, given a new test and new standards, these first-year scores might be lower than we’d like to see,” said Pacific President Pamela A. Eibeck, who launched the report card in 2012 as part of the university’s Beyond Our Gates Reading by Third initiative. “We take these results as a signal that we must redouble our efforts to ensure all San Joaquin County children are strong readers by the end of third grade. Based on progress in other key areas, we believe our work is making a difference.”

The Beyond Our Gates initiative unites some 50 community partners – including school districts, the public library, businesses, nonprofits and faith-based groups – in an effort to improve early literacy.

Among the areas showing progress were:

  • Truancy: Among K-12 students in San Joaquin County, truancy fell to 24 percent. That was down from 25 percent last year and nearly 30 percent the year before. Statewide, the truancy rate was 31 percent.
  • Preschool enrollment: In San Joaquin County, preschool enrollment was 42 percent, up from 34 percent the previous year. Statewide, the rate was 47 percent.
  • Educating new mothers: The percentage of new mothers without a high school diploma decreased slightly to 25 percent from last year’s 26 percent. However, it still lags behind California’s average of 18 percent. A child’s academic achievement is closely connected to the education level of his or her parents, especially the mother.

The report also praised the Stockton-San Joaquin Public Library System’s literacy efforts, including its free summer tutoring program, Summer Book Buddies and its support of Pacific’s San Joaquin Reads outreach and awareness campaign.

“The public library has proven to be one of our strongest partners, leading with innovative programs that address some of our community’s top literacy challenges,” Eibeck said.


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