Gov. Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal today kicked off Read Across Georgia Month in support of the governor’s Grade Level Reading Initiative, a push to have all Georgia third graders reading at grade level or better by the completion of third grade.
“During my administration, Sandra and I have made increasing the percentage of Georgia’s third grade students reading at grade level a top priority,” said Deal. “With the help of state agencies and organizations, we have made great strides in achieving this goal. When we fail to strategically invest resources in our youngest students, we are forced to spend more money trying to remediate them later. By prioritizing early childhood education, we ensure that our youngest students are positioned for future academic excellence.”
Deal also released the phase two results from a study conducted by researchers with the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC Chapel Hill, confirming that participation in Georgia Pre-K has significant positive effects on children’s language and literacy skills, including letter knowledge, letter-word identification, phonological awareness and phonemic awareness. These are foundational skills that are predictive of later reading proficiency.
“The development of early literacy skills today for children birth to 5 — especially in lower socioeconomic and dual-language families — can determine their chances for academic and professional success tomorrow,” said Bobby Cagle, commissioner for Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. “The first five years of life present an extremely valuable opportunity to build a solid foundation for future learning, one that if lost can never be regained. Encouraging reading among our youngest learners helps build that early foundation and supports Governor Deal’s goal of seeing all children reading on grade-level by third grade.”