BOSTON – Governor Patrick yesterday signed into law An Act Relative to Third Grade Reading Proficiency (H.4243), which convenes an expert panel to streamline and coordinate literacy initiatives in the Commonwealth. Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) advocated for this Act before the Senate in July, highlighting the efforts underway in Pittsfield to improve literacy.
This Act creates a nine-member expert panel, tasked with delivering recommendations to coordinate statewide interventions, with the goal of ensuring that every student reads proficiently by the end of third grade. Currently, nearly 40% of third graders are reading below proficient levels. That number balloons to 60% in children of low-income families. Studies show that 75% of students who struggle to read by third grade will continue to struggle academically, reducing their chances of graduating from high school, going to college, or successfully participating in a 21st-century economy.
In his remarks to the Senate in July, Downing highlighted the work of Pittsfield Promise, a collaborative effort of 15 city-based organizations established with the goal of 90% third grade literacy by the year 2020. The success of this joint effort earned Pittsfield recognition as an “All America City” for literacy efforts by the National Civic League. Downing spoke to how this literacy panel can learn from communities, like Pittsfield, making progress in an effort to replicate that experience across the Commonwealth.