By Curt Finch

MOISD Superintendent

There is overwhelming research that students who get behind their peers and can’t read at grade level by third grade become exponentially behind as their educational journey progresses; very few students break that negative trend line, so early intervention is the key to stopping this train.

Reading is the key in the American educational system and has been since public school education was started with our original 13 colonies in the early 1600s. Reading permeates all of the subjects in school, and a focus on reading essentials helps increase the probability of educational success in the future.

Over the years, the Pioneer News Group has been a great partner in raising awareness about the importance of reading by writing and publishing community and school articles and stories of reading success. The Mecosta-Osceola ISD, an educational support agency for our local school districts, has now joined a coalition of more than 10 counties to the south and west on improving our reading success as a region; this group is now working as a cooperative unit called the Reading Now Network. In the current competitive educational environment, districts are positioned to not share success tips for fear of losing students; a child’s reading success shouldn't be something we have to compete over. We need to work together to improve reading in our schools, communities and neighborhoods for every child, every day.

Parents, teachers, staff, school boards and community leaders need to continue to promote the value of education and the importance of reading as the key ingredient to that success.

This past month, the local school boards and the MOISD signed a resolution to support each other around five proven principles of reading; our local school boards and superintendents have picked the top two principles and will be focusing professional development and support around these concepts:

n An uncompromised focus on reading; and using data to bring about change. The progress on these strategies will be reported by the Pioneer and the local schools as we march together in our respective West Michigan communities towards reading success for all students by the third grade. Keep your eye on the Reading Now Network, the Pioneer and your local elementary school; our success at reading proficiency by third grade will not be possible without your help.

Dr. Finch can be reached at cfinch@moisd.org or followed on Twitter @CFinchMOISD