Today, Governor Susana Martinez announced a proposal to invest $17 million dollars in new funding to help New Mexico's children learn how to read. The Early Reading Initiative will provide new reading coaches and offer new screenings to students who are struggling to read, as well as increase funding for pre-K programs and supplemental instruction for children in need of reading assistance. The 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress found that 80% of New Mexico's 4th grade students cannot read at grade level, which
can lead to poor student performance in later grades and a graduation rate in New Mexico that is among the lowest in the country.
"We have an opportunity to invest in the future of our children by ensuring that they have a foundation for learning and success in life," said Governor Susana Martinez. "When our students can read, they can more easily achieve, and by monitoring our students' progress at an early age, we can step in and help those who are struggling so that every New Mexico child can read proficiently before entering the 4th grade."
As part of the $17 million Early Reading Initiative, the state would spend over $6 million to invest in reading coaches throughout New Mexico. Each reading coach would support a group of about six elementary schools, and would work closely with teachers on the best strategies to help struggling students find success. Teachers would also be provided with screening assessment tools to regularly monitor a student's reading progress in early grades, and struggling students would get the help and attention they need.
"We know that a child that can't read by the 3rd grade is four times more likely to drop out of high school," said Public Education Department Secretary-Designate Hanna Skandera. "Our children will be the leaders of our state before we know it. It's time we give them the opportunity they deserve."
As part of the Early Reading Initiative, the Governor will work in a bipartisan fashion with New Mexico lawmakers to ensure that students would no longer be advanced from the 3rd to the 4th grade without having learned basic reading skills.