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Alabama River Region leaders draft action plan addressing childhood reading proficiency

Leaders across Alabama’s River Region met in Montgomery on Monday to formulate a plan of action to increase the number of children reading proficiently by the end of the third grade.

The meeting, led by the River Region United Way’s (RRWU) Bold Goal Coalition, saw more than 70 community leaders across the region partake in a collaborative effort to address the issue. The attending representatives consisted of the area’s civic, community and educational communities.

The River Region includes Autauga, Elmore, Lowndes, Macon, and Montgomery Counties. According to a release, area school superintendents and state agency leaders also partook in the discussion.

Alabama Department of Education state school Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey touched on the importance of exposing children to literacy in early stages of life. RRWU noted that Mackey also expressed support for the coalition’s efforts and suggested best practices for those involved in helping address the issue.

Ron Simmons, RRWU president and CEO, conveyed the importance of community leaders working in concert to solve such a pressing issue as childhood literacy.

“The River Region United Way has convened The Bold Goal Coalition to foster collaboration across counties, community organizations, businesses, and schools,” said Simmons. “There are many issues and challenges preventing children from learning to read by the end of the third grade. No one person or group can solve these issues by themselves. What’s important is that we agree on a common set of outcomes that we influence, and actively work towards achieving them in service of our children.”

RRWU made mention of leaders’ efforts to coincide with that of the state legislature’s in solving the issue of reading deficiency, which passed the Alabama Literacy Act to ensure public school students are meeting appropriate reading levels relative to their grade.

Early education and care, family engagement and education, school attendance, out-of-classroom learning and community partnerships were among the coalition’s identified themes. Work groups were established for each area which will identify plans to drive desired outcomes for each.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL