The Literacy Report Card for San Joaquin County shows a big improvement for the reading skills of third graders.
This year, 82 schools took part in the study by University of the Pacific.
Reading proficiency at the third grade level jumped by 5 points this year to stand at 35 percent, but is still lagging behind the state average of 44 percent.
However, truancy continues to be a problem. In September, 22,000 students recorded perfect attendance, and among them was sixth grader Christopher Atkins from King School in Stockton.
“I like being here and it’s very important to learn, read, and write. I want to be a basketball player so that’s why I’m studying very hard so that one day, I can get drafted to a great team,” Atkins said.
Vanessa Sheared, Dean of Pacific’s School of Education, said reading proficiency is the main goal but obviously getting them in the classroom is key.
“We know that if kids make a connection overall in the school, and they stay in school, then they’re likely to read and they’re more likely to stay in school,” Sheared said.
Sheared said the ability to read by the third grade is a critical milestone for a child’s education.
King School Principal Connie Fabian said she has helped boost those reading skills by challenging her students and rewarding their efforts.
“I’ve had to kiss a pig. I’ve had to be taped to the wall. I’ve even been in a dunk tank before, so just to try to inspire and motivate them to read every night,” Fabian said.
Kissing pigs may not be in every teacher’s lesson plan, but nothing succeeds like success.