Springfield and Worcester will compete against 25 other communities from across the nation in the 2017 All-America City Awards, which this year are recognizing cities and towns leading the way on early literacy.
Representatives from both Massachusetts cities will head to Denver June 14-16 during Grade-Level Reading Week to present what they’ve accomplished to improve key drivers of early reading success for low-income children.
The National Civic League, which presents the awards annually, has partnered this year with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
Springfield was named a finalist due to its Reading Success by 4th Grade (RS4G) program, an initiative spearheaded by a coalition that includes the public schools, early childhood education community, business community, legislators and community organizations. The program created a Community Data Warehouse – a universal pre-K curriculum with professional development and coaching support for local early childhood organizations (public schools and private providers), and a funder collaborative.
The result of these efforts are a decrease in chronically absent K-3 students, improved MCAS reading scores for third graders, and more third graders participating in a summer learning program who improved their reading level.
Worcester was named a finalist for leveraging several community partnerships around early literacy. For example, three-quarters of the children participating in the Summer Literacy Initiative maintained or improved their reading scores. The program opened an in-school community library branch and a “Read 20” messaging campaign. One result: the percentage of third graders at Tatnuck Elementary School scoring proficient or higher on the MCAS increased from 35 percent in 2013 to 46 percent in 2016.
Worcester is also being recognized as the Commonwealth’s leading city for refugee settlement and for its efforts to provide support for those parents and their children, including the Worcester Institute for Parent Leadership in Education and the Worcester Family Partnership.
Ten communities are selected to receive the All-America City Award each year. The 2017 applicants will be evaluated on whether they’ve made progress in at least two of the key drivers of early reading success: school readiness, school attendance, summer learning and grade-level reading.
Award winners will also address the National Civic League’s key process criteria of civic engagement, cross-sector collaboration and inclusiveness. Bonus points are awarded for plans for sustainability and for aligning, linking, stacking and bundling the most promising and proven programs, practices and strategies.
For more information on the All-America City Award finalists, visit gradelevelreading.net/aacaward.