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early grade excellence

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Early grade excellence


For the last several years, United Way of Pierce County has been working on the most critical issues in our community, including Education. As we examined the issues more deeply, it became clear that to make a real difference in our community, we must make an early investment in our children. When our children succeed, our community succeed.

Early Grade Excellence is critical to a child's future success. Before the third grade, children are learning to read. After that, they are reading to learn. If they aren't reading proficiently at the third grade level, they may have challenges when they transition to reading to learn and may be less likely to graduate.

Help ensure all our children receive the support they need to perform at or above grade level by age 10.

The Key Issues

Reading at Grade Level

Summer Learning Loss
The Affect of Attendance on Grade Level Reading

Why It Matters

Low-income students lose an average of more than two months in reading achievement in the summer, while their middle-income peers tend to make gains in reading.

One in four Pierce County third graders is not reading at grade level.

Those who don’t read at grade level by age 10 are six times more likely to drop out of high school.

How You Can Help

To reach our goals, we need your help. There are many ways you can get involved:

Make a financial gift to United Way of Pierce County
As a parent, make reading a priority for your child
Volunteer your time to read to kids
Participate in Launch Into Literacy by holding a book drive or volunteering
Use your role as a business leader to advocate for education issues
Serve as a tutor
Write a letter to your political leaders or local editor



Back to School is Cool
Launch Into Literacy Fourth grade is the pivotal year when kids transition from learning to read to reading to learn. If they aren’t reading at grade level by the end of third grade, their ability to learn can be affected. Help our kids Launch into Literacy by providing books to the children who don’t have books at home.READ MORE

Back to School is Cool
Back to School United Way of Pierce County believes in education and wants every child to have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Due to financial struggles, school supplies are some of the basic needs many children go without. United Way wants to change that and you can help. READ MORE




Campaign for Grade Level Reading Reading proficiency by third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success. Yet every year, more than 80 percent of low-income children miss this crucial milestone. READ MORE

Attendance Awareness Every year, one in 10 kindergarten and 1st grade students misses a month of school with excused and unexcused absences. By middle and high school, the rates of chronic absence are far higher. Starting in kindergarten, these absences can affect academic achievement, especially for low-income students unable to make up for lost time, research shows. They can leave children unable to read well by the end of 3rd grade, exacerbating the achievement gap. And they can set a pattern of poor attendance and academic failure for older students, fueling the dropout rate. READ MORE




  Creating a Culture of Attendance Research shows that kindergartners who miss 10 percent of school, or just 18 days have lower academic performance when they reach first grade. When chronic absence becomes the norm, the loss in academic performance continues to grow each year, leaving the child further and further behind their peers who are regularly attending school. READ MORE

Economic Return on an Investment in Education Providing quality early learning is a key factor in attracting skilled workers and new business to Washington State. READ MORE