Last year, only 27 percent of third-grade students in San Joaquin County had reached grade-level proficiency, a drop from 34 percent the previous year, according to University of the Pacific’s annual San Joaquin Literacy Report Card.
The report, part of Pacific’s Beyond Our Gates Reading by Third initiative, was released Monday.
The lower literacy rate was expected because of the implementation of a new standardized test to track students’ progress, said Jennifer Torres Siders, community relations director for Beyond Our Gates. However, the score is still lower than was hoped for and it is seen as a serious concern.
The results of this year’s report card should serve as a call to action to continue giving children academic support, she said.
According to the report, Stockton Unified School District had the lowest third-grade literacy rate — 16 percent — while Ripon Unified School District had the highest at 43 percent. Statewide, 38 percent of third-graders met the benchmark.
Having third-graders master reading skills is an important indicator for their academic future, as children who cannot read well by the end of the year fall behind, according to the report.
Sociologist Donald Hernandez found that students who did not read proficiently by the end of third grade were four times more likely to leave school without graduating, according to the 2011 report “Early Warning: Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters.”
The goal of Pacific’s literacy report is to track students’ progress and focus attention on areas that are in need, Torres Siders said.
Poverty is among the factors believed to be affecting literacy rates in San Joaquin County, she said. A parent who is not economically stable may not have a job that allows flexibility to be involved in their child’s school, or the time to read with their kids. Unmet health needs and English proficiency can impact a student’s’ success as well, she added.
Using the same five indicators from past report cards, it is known that learning to read doesn’t just happen in a classroom, Torres Siders said. It happens in the community.
The Literacy Report Card, which was launched in 2012, also takes preschool enrollment, truancy rates and the percentage of new mothers without a high school diploma as key factors that influence a child’s educational success.
Jamie Baiocchi, director of early education and support for the San Joaquin County Office of Education, said that although the percentage of students reaching the third-grade reading level is not positive news, it gives the Beyond Our Gates council information on key areas that need to be targeted.
Family engagement at an early age is really important, as well as attendance records, she said.
Last year, the county’s truancy rate, which is defined as three or more unexcused absences, continued its downward trend to 24 percent from 25 percent in 2013. Preschool enrollment and the percentage of new mothers without a high school education also improved.
The collaborative efforts from educators, elected officials, business leaders, nonprofit organizations and health care professional is remarkable and it proves that it takes community involvement to make a difference, Baiocchi said.
“We have a lot of things happening in our county that are so positive,” she said.
Among the initiatives spearheaded by Beyond Our Gates are Books on Buses, which allow children to read while riding RTD buses, Read to Me, Stockton! and Book Buddies.
“The literacy efforts in San Joaquin County are tremendous,” Baiocchi said.
The Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library is also touted as key ally in Beyond Our Gates’ effort to improve student achievement.
Library staff is able to provide training for guardians interested in learning ways to teach their children to read and emphasize the value of literacy, said Suzy Daveluy, deputy director of community services for the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library. Parents can take their child to weekly story times and learn how fun and positive literacy can be.
She said her role is to get out into the community and teach people about services available, but also to learn from people what resources are in need.
Helping children become strong readers doesn’t take a lot of money, Torres Siders said. It’s as simple as playing, reading, talking and singing with “your little ones.”
Serena Williams, one of the greatest athletes in the world, had one of the greatest years in sports. For this, Sports Illustrated named her the 2015 Sportsperson of the Year. The article highlighted some of her achievements:
“Williams, 34, won three major titles, went 53–3 and provided at least one new measure of her tyrannical three-year reign at No. 1. For six weeks this summer—and for the first time in the 40-year history of the WTA rankings—Williams amassed twice as many ranking points as the world No. 2; at one point that gap grew larger than the one between No. 2 and No. 1,000. Williams’s 21 career Grand Slam singles titles are just one short of Steffi Graf’s Open-era record. Such numbers are reason enough for Sports Illustrated to name Serena Williams its 2015 Sportsperson of the Year.”
Williams is the first black woman to win the award solo.
Normally, that’s where the story would end. Instead, horse-racing fans made themselves heard, complaining that the Triple Crown-winning thoroughbred American Pharoah was snubbed. Here’s a sampling from those who felt the horse should have won Sportsperson of the Year:
Much of the online outrage centered on the fact that Sports Illustrated had polled readers about whom they thought deserved the award, and American Pharoah received the most votes. In reality, the poll had no bearing on who would actually be honored.
“SI states that the sportsperson of the year award goes to ‘the athlete or team whose performance that year embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement.’ That puts American Pharoah at a clear disadvantage since horses can’t really display sportsmanship.”
Implicit in the discussion about who deserved to win the award is the disconcerting comparison between a black woman and a horse. It’s an offensive and ill-advised comparison, but one that was made explicitly throughout the day:
On Monday, Sports Illustrated published another article, explaining that the decision to choose Williams was based not just on her impressive record but also on her endeavors off the court, including her willingness to confront social issues.
“We are honoring Serena Williams too for reasons that hang in the grayer, less comfortable ether, where issues such as race and femininity collide with the games. Race was used as a cudgel against Williams at Indian Wells in 2001, and she returned the blow with a 14-year self-exile from the tournament. She returned to Indian Wells in ’15, a conciliator seeking to raise the level of discourse about hard questions, the hardest ones, really.”
That is something American Pharoah could never do.
It is good to see she won the award by actually accomplishing sports feats and being impressive, not for publicity sakes for changing body parts. This is well deserved.
Both action and humor fill the debut trailer for “Star Trek Beyond,” which surfaced Monday.
The third movie in the rebooted franchise shows the Captain Kirk and the Enterprise gang gearing up for a potentially dangerous mission. Set to Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” the teaser gives a first look at actors Zoe Saldana, Chris Pine, Idris Elba, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin and John Cho.