We just celebrated a milestone moment in our history. Yes, we celebrated two hundred and forty years of perfecting our union. Beyond the picnics, parades, and fireworks, we reflect with hope and aspiration for our nation’s future. One key indicator of our future is the readiness of the next generation to advance the perfection of our union in the educational achievement of our children.
Last fall, the report of students in our state gave our educational leaders some unwelcomed data. Maryland’s scores on national reading and math tests dropped significantly and showed some of the largest declines across the nation in 2015, as the state included more students with disabilities and English-language learners than it had in previous years.
The state-level results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), indicate that Maryland was the only state that had declined in scores on all four tests — in reading and math amongst fourth and eighth graders. Maryland’s scores dipped three to nine points on each test. Why is this a big deal?
Reading is a critical factor to learning. Reading is a developmental process, in which children must navigate a sequence of increasingly difficult tasks. As students journey through the school system, reading is central. Reading is a skill that is built over time, and a tool that will help them learn about future topics. Having the ability to read proficiently by the end of third grade is a critical milestone, for by this time reading to learn needs to take precedence over learning to read. Students who are still poor readers by the end of third grade are less likely to understand what is taught in later grades. Additionally, the likelihood of a student reaching their high school graduation can be predicted with reasonable accuracy by their fourth-grade reading scores.
The two-month summer break can be most impactful on the learning process. The infamous ‘summer slide’ occurs when students lose learning momentum. So what can we do about this? Well, we can encourage the use of our public libraries. Suppose we made going to the library a weekly event, and invite another family? The tip sheet below gives us some ideas to stem the educational regression.
Our Gospel call to be salt and light has a breadth and reach beyond Revelation 14. It calls us to engage our communities in ways where the everlasting Gospel can be experienced in its fullest dimensions. This may lead us to even see the public library become a sanctuary.