Editorial: 'Read to Achieve' proposal deserves legislators' support

January 04, 2004

We're glad to see that Gov. Ernie Fletcher has decided to make reading a centerpiece of his education proposals to the state legislature this year.

During his campaign, Fletcher emphasized the need to make sure that every child achieves the reading skills in the early grades that are needed to be successful both in school and later in the workplace.

He said last week that, ideally, children should be reading at grade level by the time they reach the fourth grade.

Fletcher's "Read to Achieve" iniative, though admittedly easier said than done, makes a whole lot of sense. Far too often in our public schools, children are passed along from grade to grade without ever picking up the reading skills they need to be successful in their school work. The older the students are the more difficult it becomes to overcome these problems.


Fletcher hasn't yet revealed the details of his proposal but according to "Restoring Hope," the document released by the newly elected governor during his campaign, the "Read to Achieve" iniative would include:

* Making sure that qualifying school districts obtain federal funds from the Early Reading First program.

* Ensuring that school districts qualifying for the funds use "research-based" techniques to teach reading.

* Expanding Early Reading Incentive Grants from the state.

* Assessing every first grader to determine his or her reading level.

* Identifying children having problems reading and having a teacher trained in reading intervention available to each school system.

* Continually monitoring the progress of the program.

Fletcher's "Restoring Hope" booklet, while praising the strides made in Kentucky education, also cites a disturbing statistic from the "Nation's Report Card": 36 percent of Kentucky's fourth graders read at a "below basic" level.

Clearly, that presents a major obstacle to achievement for a large group of Kentucky students. We hope Fletcher and state legislators will work together to come up with a program that will significantly reduce the percentage of "below basic" readers in Kentucky schools.

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