Alongside 3rd grade students at Mission Avenue Elementary in Albuquerque today, Governor Susana Martinez unveiled and kicked off the "New Mexico Reads to Lead‟ education initiative, which will implement several early childhood reading interventions designed to assist teachers and parents in identifying where our students are struggling in their
literacy learning so that they can receive immediate and effective help.
The "New Mexico Reads to Lead" initiative is the result of an $8.5 million direct investment in early childhood reading reforms in the FY13 budget. Focusing on roughly 100,000 students from kindergarten through the 3rd grade, the initiative will provide teachers with assessment tools that produce immediate information about where their students need assistance. It will also provide parents and teachers with resources and strategies on reading instruction -- available in hard copy and on the Internet in both English and Spanish. And, as part of the program, up to 52 reading coaches will be hired throughout the state to support teachers in their efforts to help those students who are struggling to read the most.
"Learning to read is the key to success, and it can often determine whether a student grows up frustrated and discouraged or empowered and confident," said Governor Martinez. "80% of our 4th graders do not currently read proficiently, and the New Mexico Reads to Lead‟ initiative is a direct investment in challenging this unacceptable status quo with proven reading reforms aimed at helping those kids who need it the most."
The common reading assessments will not only allow parents and teachers to know exactly where a child needs reading help, but they will ensure that students who move from one district to another will not be lost in the transition. New Mexico‟s student population is fairly mobile, and teachers receiving students from another district will be able to know right away where a new student is struggling and excelling in their literacy learning.
Furthermore, in order to ensure that reading instruction doesn‟t stop when the bell rings, parents will have access to strategies that are being implemented in their child‟s classroom, allowing them to explore various ways to help their child learn at home.
The Public Education Department will also require all school districts and charter schools across New Mexico to develop a comprehensive reading plan for their K-3 students, and a statewide literacy plan will also be put into practice.
"Our children, their parents and future generations of New Mexicans can‟t afford to wait," said Public Education Department (PED) Secretary Hanna Skandera. "The gift of literacy not only helps our children do better in the classroom, it gives them a valuable skill they will need for the rest of their lives," she continued.
Throughout this week, Governor Martinez will be reading to students in six different New Mexico communities and speaking to business leaders and civic organizations about the important role that education reform plays in increasing New Mexico‟s long-term economic competitiveness.
"Helping our kids learn to read is a shared responsibility that we should fully embrace," continued Governor Martinez. "New Mexico‟s long-term prosperity and growth depends upon our willingness to invest in reforming our education system -- in a way that always puts kids first and doesn‟t settle for mediocrity or failure."
The website that will host reading resources for teachers and parents will be up and running by June, and reading coaches will begin their work throughout the state by the time school begins in August. The first reading assessments will also be utilized by teachers in the fall.