MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Only one-third of third-graders read at their grade level in Shelby County, and the school district said it's taking action.
Superintendent Dorsey Hopson presented his final plan to strengthen early childhood literacy at Tuesday night's school board meeting.
Hopson said nearly 6,000 students get left behind because they're not reading on grade level by the third grade.
The numbers of students not reading on grade level shocked parents and childhood literacy advocates.
"A lot of research shows that the third grade is an indicator of the rest of one's school career, and maybe even a life career," Wilson McCloy said. "A lot of research has been done on a lot of different levels that the third grade is a major indicator."
Hopson said he was making early literacy the priority in the district's 80/90/100 strategic plan.
The plan was first presented to the Shelby County School Board in April, but board members wanted a more detailed solution presented.
Hopson plans to have 90 percent of third graders reading on grade level in ten years. The number of third-grade students reading on grade level is currently at 30 percent.
The plan includes having high-quality pre-k classrooms, strong teachers in early grades, and working with families of students.
The district plans to roll out the first phase of the strategic plan in February because, as Hopson said, "When students start behind they stay behind."
Along with strengthening literacy early in a child's education, other priorities include the following:
• Improve Post-Secondary Readiness
• Develop Teachers, Leaders and Central Office to drive Student Success
• Expand High Quality School Options
• Mobilize Family and Community Partners
Below is the school district's complete presentation on their strategic plan:
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