In the third grade, students are laying a foundation for their academic careers. "[Reading proficiency] is linked to high school performance, graduation, and college enrollment for Wisconsin students," according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
As of the 2016-2017 school year, 55% of Kenosha County public school students were below proficient in third grade reading based on the Forward Exam results, a state assessment. Meaning that in a third grade classroom of 20 students, 11 are not reading at grade level.
Georgetown University estimates “65 percent of all jobs in the [year 2020] economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school.”
Preparing for higher education begins well before high school. Third grade reading is a great way to get your child started.
Building Our Future sees the importance of third grade reading and its impact on a child’s future. In 2018, we will be creating a Third Grade Reading Action Network that will focus on having all of Kenosha County’s youth reading proficient by the third grade.
How You Can Help
Third Grade Reading levels don’t only improve through going to school. Anyone can be a reading role model to a child. Consider becoming one by:
Building Our Future seeks to help Kenosha County’s children not only succeed in early childhood & K-12 education but also post-secondary. The Inspire Southeast Wisconsin program, commonly referred to as Inspire, is changing the way students think about and prepare for both their post-secondary education and careers.
“Inspire is the platform that allows employers to connect directly with the schools,” says Brooke Infusino, KABA’s Director of Talent Development. The online platform allows students and educational staff to explore career paths within companies throughout the region.
The Inspire program is active in seven counties in the Southeast region alone, and, this year, is being piloted in Kenosha County at Lance Middle School and Tremper High School.
Through the Inspire program, employers can interact with students both online and in person. A simple way to get involved is for a company to create a company profile with information about what they do and the type of career opportunities within. “It’s the link between education and business,” Infusino says.
Employers may also designate career coaches, which allows employees to interact and answer students’ questions regarding specific career pathways and job functions.
Employers also have options to offer real-world, career-based learning experiences to middle and high school students, such as internships, employer panel discussions, youth apprenticeships, company tours, and job shadowing. These meaningful experiences are an important part of career exploration for youth.
“[Sixty-four percent] of students identified personal experiences as having the greatest influence over their career decisions,” according to a report from the Manufacturing Institute, a non-partisan affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers.
If you or your company are interested in learning more about Inspire Southeast Wisconsin, please visit their website or contact Brooke Infusino, KABA’s Director of Talent Development.
How You Can Help
Let’s help our youth prepare for their future careers and post-graduation plans. Consider:
Building Our Future works with community partners to bring their efforts together and shine light on programs that are already doing great work. As part of getting children ready for school, our partners aid parents in becoming more skilled so they can gain better employment and empowering them to give their children a stronger foundation in literacy and social skills. Even Start is a program that has exemplified this approach since 2001.
Eight years ago, Evalicia Almazan became a student at Even Start. Since then, she has earned her Associate’s degree at Milwaukee Area Technical College in early childhood education and now works at Even Start part-time.
Patricia Demos, community school relations coordinator for Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD), says this is no coincidence. In fact the 16-year-old program currently run by KUSD seeks to employ parents that were former students.
“[These parents] provide mentoring and role modeling for other parents currently enrolled in the program,” she explains. “Through Even Start education, we offer parents an opportunity to participate in early childhood education classes, interactive home visits, and learning activities while developing English skills.”
These classes range from Monday through Thursday at Wilson Elementary School, 3520 33rd Ave., and are open to parents with children ages 0-5 and individuals looking to strengthen their English skills.
Evalicia Almazan says most children who complete the program are ready for kindergarten.
Back in the classroom, Evalicia beams while she reflects on her experience at Even Start.
“They opened the door for me to do something else,” she says. “I love my job. I love teaching the kids.”
To receive more information on the Even Start Family Literacy Program, please contact Hansel Lugo at 262-359-7944 or email@example.com.
Start at Home
The Even Start Family Literacy program offers parents many ways to help their children develop at home. Consider trying one of the interactive activities with your child:
Create a “me bag” that expresses your child's interests and share it with someone, include items such as a favorite book, family trip or pet photo
Read a book and do a related craft. For example, reading “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” and then creating a paper bag bear
How to get Involved
Readying the county’s children for their first day of school starts with you. Building Our Future is a partnership of families, practitioners, educators, CEOs, government officials and administrators focused on creating an equitable future for our children.
Article written by Marley Uran
University of Wisconsin Parkside
Published in the Kenosha News