Literacy Leaders

Literacy Leaders Rockford

Beginning in 2020, our project focus area will be Literacy Leaders.

Literacy has proven to have a significant relationship with academic achievement and lifelong personal success.  Third grade reading scores, measured at the time of a student’s life when he or she is expected to begin “reading to learn” instead of learning to read, are the single greatest predictor of future academic and lifelong success.  If a child is not a proficient reader when he or she begins fourth grade, as much as half of the curriculum taught will be incomprehensible.  Quite simply, those who cannot read well, cannot learn well.  As the curriculum demands more reading, these students fall further behind as the gap between expectation and ability widens.

Although third grade is the point where test data begins to predict future outcome, the real period of impact that defines how well a child will be reading in third grade, begins at birth and continues through early childhood, the sensitive period for language learning, which rounds out at about 5 years old.

The only way to improve third grade reading scores is to focus on the literacy and language skills of children from birth to age 5.

Recent studies bear out the crucial need for early literacy skills and reading readiness for young children.  There is overwhelming consensus that the earliest years of life is the time when a child’s brain is undergoing the most growth and development and that the experiences a child encounters during this critical phase shapes his or her academic, health, and overall lifelong success.

In Rockford we know there is a critical need for literacy and language intervention in our youngest population. According to the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2018 Illinois Kindergarten Individual Development Survey, 40% of children in Rockford were not ready in math, language/literacy, and social emotional development when they enter Kindergarten (Report: More Preschool Now, Less Crime Later Rockford Register Star, 4/24/2019) and in the Rockford Public School District 205, only 17% of 3rd graders met or exceeded expected grade-level reading performance in 2017.  To reverse this alarming trend, resources and attention must be devoted to the education and support of parents and caregivers of young children, who are their “primary teachers” before they enter Pre-K or kindergarten.   High-quality early education programs that engage these caregivers and their children provide the opportunity to get children on the right track by building a strong foundation for pre-reading and school readiness skills.  Providing families with access to books immediately, promoting positive home literacy environments, and providing tools for easy integration of early literacy skills into household life, will lead to a growth in children’s attitudes toward reading, an increase in children’s communication and language skills, and will result in children who are ready to learn and able to succeed. 

Our Program Vision:

Program Overview:

How to Support and Program and Get Involved –  Learn more or donate to the project fund on this website.   Contact Project Chairperson, Jennifer Patterson at or by phone at 815-399-4518.