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VIEWPOINT: Reading Corps invests in early literacy for all

One in three Minnesota kids is not on track to read proficiently at third grade — a critically important milestone indicative of future academic and economic achievement.

That's why we are sponsoring legislation to increase funding for Minnesota Reading Corps when session starts next week.

Reading Corps has a 12-year track record of bringing kids up to grade level in reading and putting them on a path toward education success — all for an average state investment of $325 per child per year. This public-private partnership (federal, state and private funders) demonstrates the impact we can have when we invest in data-driven programs.

Independent research involving 3,000 children in urban, suburban and rural communities across Minnesota found that Reading Corps:

• helps all preschool students be ready for Kindergarten. Four- and 5-year-old students with Reading Corps met or exceeded their targets in five areas critical for school success. Children in comparison classrooms did so for only one.

• closes the achievement gap. Students with higher risk factors made stronger gains.

• accelerates student success. After a single semester, the average kindergarten student with a Reading Corps literacy tutor performed twice as well as students from similar backgrounds without one.

It's clear all children need to have the opportunity to develop the reading skills that are a foundation for their future education and economic achievement, and to ensure that Minnesota continues to have a high-quality workforce.

Supporting programs such as Minnesota Reading Corps is not a partisan issue. As co-authors of the bill, we both believe in the importance of early literacy and the need to invest in programs that get results.

Reading Corps is already helping prepare 30,000 kids across the state for a more productive and fulfilling future, but thousands more Minnesota children need this help. Now is the time to make an additional investment in Reading Corps to help make sure more Minnesota kids get on the path to success in education — and in life.

Susan Kent represents Minnesota Senate District 53. She can be reached at 651-296-4166 or Carla Nelson is a Republican state senator from Rochester, Minn.