New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading



Check out these tips for a healthy and happy summer break!

The Louisiana Mental Health Coalition's School Based Mental Health Workgroup shared a helpful guide packed with valuable resources to help students maintain whole-body health during the summer.





OUR VISION is to ensure all students in New Orleans read at grade level by the end of third grade.

The New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative of leaders from government, business, education, families, and the nonprofit sector who have committed to working together for the next decade to increase the number of New Orleans students who are reading on grade level by the end of third grade.


We are doing this by focusing on three primary drivers of third-grade reading:

  • Promoting summer learning to ensure low-income children don’t lose valuable learning when they are out of school during the summer months.


A child’s ability to read by the end of third grade is an important predictor of future success. Children who read on grade level by the end of third grade are more likely to graduate high school and have higher earnings as adults. In New Orleans public schools, only 34% of third-graders read on grade-level by the end of the third grade. This means the vast majority of our city's children miss this critical milestone.

For more data and resources, click here.








current state


Currently, only 34% New Orleans third graders are reading on grade level. Students who are low-income are nearly 40% less likely to be reading on grade-level by the end of third grade than their more affluent peers in New Orleans.

kids learning



The New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is working to close this achievement gap. Our goal is for 80% of low income students in New Orleans to be reading on grade level by the end of third grade by 2027.

kids playing



Children who will be in third grade in 2027 have not yet been born. What supports will our community have in place for them to make sure they succeed?

The Campaign is based on the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which has conducted extensive research over the past decade to examine the key drivers of third grade reading success: school readiness, frequent attendance, and summer learning.





Using this research-based framework, the New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has outlined the following goals and strategies:

school readiness  SCHOOL READINESS

current stateCURRENT STATE


According to data collected by the Orleans Public Education Network using the Early Development Instrument, only 8% of New Orleans children enter kindergarten developmentally “very ready” physically, emotionally, socially and cognitively. Research continues to show the positive long-term impacts of high-quality early care and education, particularly for low-income children. Despite the increasing cost of childcare, less than 16% of low-income Orleans Parish children birth through age three have access to a publicly-funded child care seat.



By 2024, 80% of New Orleans children will enter kindergarten ready for success.



To reach this goal, the New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has outlined the following strategies:

  1. Better support and increase family participation in the social emotional and literacy development of children.
  2. Increase the number of quality early care and education seats to better meet the need for high-quality early care and education for children, birth through age three.
  3. Advocate for the widespread use of a developmentally-appropriate universal kindergarten readiness assessment that is accessible, understandable and supports parents and educators in helping young children meet key development milestones.

attendance  ATTENDANCE

 current stateCURRENT STATE


More than one-fifth of students who attend public elementary schools in New Orleans miss 10% or more of the school year and are considered chronically absent. Children who are chronically absent miss valuable learning time. They often face unaddressed health needs, transportation barriers, unstable parental employment and/or housing, and other challenges that prevent them from attending school regularly.



By 2024, fewer than 10% of public school students in pre-kindergarten through third grade in New Orleans will be chronically absent.


To reach this goal, the New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has outlined the following strategies:

Establish and support consistent early warning and intervention systems across schools to prevent chronic absence using best practices locally and from other communities.

  1. Increasing access to health screenings and services in elementary schools.
  2. Advocating for policy change to incentivize schools to address chronic absence.
  3. Helping to address barriers facing the families of chronically late and absent students.
  • The Campaign launched a joint School Attendance Task Force in July 2019 in coordination with NOLA Public Schools and the New Orleans Children and Youth Planning Board. Its membership is represented by members of NOLA Public Schools, Total Community Action, the Louisiana Department of Education, the Health and Education Alliance of Louisiana (HEAL) and advocates within the juvenile justice system. 
  • The Task Force developed a list of priorities and corresponding work plan to reduce chronic absence. 
  • During the reporting period, the Task Force lost its co-chair representative from NOLA Public Schools due to a job transition and the district has yet to fill this position and offer a new representative. 
  • Due to the closure of schools in March 2020, the Attendance Task Force temporarily suspended its monthly meetings and the Campaign has been following the guidance of our national partners at Attendance Works on what COVID-19 means in regard to school attendance and learning loss and has plans to reengage this group as we prepare for students to return to school this fall, either in-person or virtually.

summer learning   SUMMER LEARNING

 current stateCURRENT STATE 


More than 2,000 New Orleans children between the ages of 4 and 8, who are living in poverty do not have access to an affordable high-quality summer program. By the time they enter the fourth grade, national research shows low-income students can lose more than two years of learning compared to their middle class peers due to summer learning loss if they do not participate in a quality summer learning program.


By 2024, 2,000 more low-income children, ages 4-8, will participate in affordable, high-quality, literacy-rich summer programming.



To reach this goal, the New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has outlined the following strategies:

  1. Increase points of access to literacy for all children during the summer months by working with existing networks of summer programs to improve quality and literacy access.
  2. Created the Kay Fennelly Summer Literacy Institute to increase access to more high-quality, literacy-rich summer programming seats for low-income children across programs with increased public and private funding. Learn more about the Kay Fennelly Summer Literacy Institute here
  3. Support and engage parents in helping prevent summer learning loss by collecting and disseminating information on available summer learning opportunities.

Using feedback and lessons learned from the implementation and evaluation of the Institute’s first two years of pilots, the Campaign worked to refine the Institute and adapt it for implementation virtually amidst the uncertainties caused by COVID-19. During this most recent reporting period, the Campaign:

  • Launched our open competitive application process for summer camp partners, which resulted in applications from 25 organizations. The competitive review process led to the selection of 15 organizations operating 16 summer camps. However, due to COVID-19, three of these summer program providers decided not to offer summer camps in 2020.
  • Deepened our partnership with KIDsmART to further leverage their expertise in arts-integrated literacy instruction and coaching of elementary school teachers to support the development of additional training workshops and the provision of ongoing coaching of summer camp partners.
  • Converted our literacy workshops from an in-person delivery format to a virtual-based webinar series. This cache of learning tools provided summer camps greater access to a wider variety of practices and trainings in best practices for integrating literacy and summer learning more effectively into their programs.



summer learning partners



NOLA & Northshore Summer Reading Programs

New Orleans Public Library Summer Fun Program

The Free Reading Program

Scholastic Home Base Summer Zone

Special Education Classroom

literacy instruction  LITERACY INSTRUCTION


Improve literacy instruction across settings for children, birth to age eight.


To reach this goal, the New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has outlined the following strategies:

  • Convene a working group of community partners to develop a plan for the Campaign’s engagement in efforts to increase the use of evidence-based literacy instruction in schools and community settings
  • Begin early implementation of this plan, leveraging advocacy and partnerships for implementation



Whether you are a parent, educator, community member or business, we would like for you to join us!