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NCLB Summer Reading Program Launched in 10 Cities, One State

Summer Reading Program Launched in 10 Cities, One State
No Child Left Behind Summer Reading Achievers encourages students to read during summer months, increase reading skills

April 8, 2004 Contact: Susan Aspey
Elaine Quesinberry
(202) 401-1576

Thousands of students at 11 sites nationwide will benefit from a summer reading program under No Child Left Behind, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige announced today. The No Child Left Behind Summer Reading Achievers Program encourages students in grades K-8 to read actively during the summer months and avoid the loss of reading skills that often occurs during summer vacation. The program was piloted last year by the Atlanta Public Schools, with nearly 18,000 students participating.

"We want to make sure that reading is enjoyable for children and becomes a regular summertime ritual," Secretary Paige said. "We know from research that students often lose some of their skills during the summer break, so it's important to encourage children to keep up those skills. Through this summer reading program, we hope that children will see reading as not just a schooltime activity but as something that is also fun, entertaining and a regular part of life."

On behalf of Secretary Paige, Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs Laurie Rich joined South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, state Secretary of Education Rick Melmer, Rapid City Area Schools Superintendent Peter Wharton and more than 1,000 children at North Middle School in Rapid City to launch South Dakota's program.

"Gov. Rounds and Dr. Melmer have been tremendous supporters of No Child Left Behind and the Summer Reading Achievers Program," Assistant Secretary Rich said. "South Dakota is one of the most rural states in the nation, and we appreciate the enthusiasm and leadership of South Dakotans in helping us identify strategies to make this program work in rural areas all across the country. "

This year's program will be run at the following sites: Springfield, Mass.; Portsmouth, N.H.; Pittsburgh; Camden, N.J.; Atlanta; Gainesville, Fla.; Kansas City, Kan.; Minneapolis; Albuquerque, N.M; San Diego and the state of South Dakota. The sites were selected based on supportive community and business groups and active school district leaders who are working to reduce the achievement gap.

To participate in the program, students must read 10 age-appropriate books during the summer months. Students will be required to describe briefly the books they have read by completing a simple form. Prizes and certificates will be awarded to successful students, and special recognition will be given to schools with the highest percentages of participating students.

School districts will work with the department to conduct outreach and promote the program. They also will work with businesses and community organizations to attract support for the program. In addition, the department will conduct local workshops and provide materials and certificates.

Contributing sponsors for the 2004 program include Target Stores, Scholastic, Inc., USA Football, First Book, the National PTA, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Communities in Schools, Inc. Other partners will be announced at a later date. Partner organizations will provide other incentives and forms of recognition.

One of President Bush's first actions after taking office was to promote children's reading achievement because studies show that when children fail to learn to read early in school, every aspect of school success is affected. By providing early diagnosis and help for reading difficulties, Reading First-supported programs will help improve student motivation and academic achievement.

The president designed Reading First around an extensive knowledge base of the essential skills children must have to learn to read. The program reflects the findings of a congressionally mandated, extensive review of scientifically based research on how students learn to read, which was completed by the National Reading Panel in 2000.

Reading First was passed into law by a bipartisan majority of Congress under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and centers on the following priorities: raising the caliber and quality of classroom instruction; basing instruction on scientifically proven methods; providing professional training for educators in reading instruction; and supplying substantial resources to support the unprecedented initiative.

President Bush's FY 2005 budget includes a $1.4 billion increase in reading funding, including $1.1 billion for Reading First, $132 million for Early Reading First and $100 million for the Striving Readers program to meet the president's goal of ensuring that all children can read on grade level by the third grade.

More information about the No Child Left Behind Act is available at www.nochildleftbehind.gov.

U. S. Department of Education, press release


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