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"Read by Three" a State Priority

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All week, education leaders and parent volunteers in the group Parent Leaders for Education have put on events to focus attention on the issues they would like to see addressed in the upcoming legislative session.

Public Schools Week wrapped up Friday, with a focus on reading proficiency by the third grade.

"Read by Three" is one of the most important issues to the education community right now, and it was a main feature of Governor Brian Sandoval's State of the State address.

When it comes to literacy, educators said it needs to begin in Kindergarten, if it is going to end in high school graduation.

"It's the best predictor we have for children graduating on time," Washoe County School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez said. "Children that are not on level by grade three have a very low probability that they'll graduate or finish school."

Governor Sandoval proposed an extra $135 million to bolster the state's education budget, with reading proficiency by third grade topping the list of priorities.

Educators said the added funding will allow them to shrink class sizes and implement programs similar to what they have at Lemmon Valley Elementary School. Over the last five years, administrators at Lemmon Valley have changed their methods. They said they are allowing more time for small group discussion, adding more adults in each classroom, and doing weekly assessments to gauge students' progress.

"Early intervention is essential," Lemmon Valley Principal Kara White said.

And according to White, the changes are working. They have seen gains in reading at all levels each year since they started the program.

That's a goal Nevada's legislators have for the whole state, and unlike the partisan budget battles of two years ago, this session they said they are ready to do business.

"I'm optimistic that we are on the same page of where we need to go and how we need to get there," District 15 Senator Debbie Smith said.

Parent Leaders for Education volunteers said that although the outlook is positive for education funding this session, they are still asking voters to contact their legislators to strengthen their resolve to increase the education budget.

For more information on the group, click here.

Written by Arianna Bennett
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