Christie Cabinet Members Reinforce Administration's Initiative to Support Early Literacy by Participating in Annual "Read Across America" Events

For Immediate Release Contact: Justin Barra
Allison Kobus
Date: March 7, 2012 609-292-1126

Trenton, NJ – Promoting the importance of early literacy for all schoolchildren in New Jersey, Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf and members of the Christie Administration shared the joy of reading with students across the state as part of the national “Read Across America” initiative.  The annual event marks the birthday of noted children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel, known as Dr. Seuss.

Last week:

  • Corrections Commissioner  Gary Lanigan read to students of the Mercer Elementary School in Trenton
  • School Development Authority CEO Marc Larkins read to students at The Early Childhood School on Clinton Avenue in Newark
  • Department of Education Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf talked about the importance of literacy and read to seventh-graders at the Bedminster Township Public School.
  • Department of Banking and Insurance Acting Commissioner Ken Kobylowski read to the second grade class at Shrewsbury Borough School
  • Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake read to students at PJ Hill Elementary School in Trenton
  • Department of Education Chief of Staff Dave Hespe read to school children at the Bartle Elementary School in Highland Park.
  • MVC Deputy Administrator Selika Gore  read to students at Queens Academy Charter School in South Plainfield
  • MVC Deputy Administrator Richard Mille read to children at International Charter School of Trenton, in Trenton

This week:

  • BPU Commissioner Jeanne Fox will read to students at the Mount Zion CDC Preschool in New Brunswick

“Reading skills are essential for success both in later school years and in college and career, and it’s never too early to begin encouraging children to read,” Acting Commissioner Cerf said. “According to the National Center for Education Statistics, children who are read to at home enjoy a substantial advantage over children who are not. The more students read for fun on their own time, the higher their reading scores.  We still have too many students in the state that are not able to read at 3rd grade level, which is an important milestone indicative of future success.”

According to 2010-11 NJASK data, there are 37,000 students not reading at grade level in 3rd grade, equaling roughly 40% of students across the state.  Of those, 43% are educated in schools that have a poverty rate below the state average, indicating that this is an issue for all demographics across the state.

“Reading to a child is a simple but enjoyable way for caregivers to take time out of their busy day to focus on family. Aside from the lifelong educational benefits that reading can produce for children, reading aloud is also a wonderfully nurturing activity that brings a caregiver and child closer together. This bonding experience not only fosters better communication and possibility for kids of all ages, but builds a stronger relationship that can last a lifetime. By reading together, we can help create some of the most wonderful and priceless memories for children,” said Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake.

The Department of Education has begun several initiatives to increase literacy across the state.

  • Designing a voluntary model curriculum based on the Common Core State Standards that will help teachers and students focus on key literacy skills. Student Learning Objectives for the Common Core English Language Arts Standards will be ready for district adoption and use by September 2012.
  • Creating voluntary model six-week unit assessments that will help teachers determine the extent to which children are progressing toward meeting the Common Core State Standards. Teachers will be able to use assessment data to adjust instruction for individual students. The English Language Arts assessments will be ready for schools in September 2012. The assessments will be developed with university, external and school district partners.
  • Designing and implementing a kindergarten entry assessment that collects information about children’s early literacy skills (and other essential domains) in the first few weeks of kindergarten. Teachers will use the information about students’ early literacy skills status to support their emerging skills upon kindergarten entry. A kindergarten assessment steering committee will be releasing a Request for Information to begin a search for assessment options in March 2012.
  • Designing and implementing benchmarks to measure students’ progress in reading along a trajectory based on grade level expectations.  The NJ State Literacy team will be releasing a Request for Information to gather research designed to inform the setting of reading benchmarks.  The RFI is due to be released in late March 2012.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904, in Springfield Mass. He wrote over 60 books. Most books were published under his well-known pseudonym, Dr. Seuss. This year marks the fifteenth annual celebration of reading and Dr. Seuss's birthday.

DOE Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf reads to 7th graders at the Bedminster Township Public School.

DOE Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf reads to 7th graders at the Bedminster Township Public School.

DOE Chief of Staff Dave Hespe reads to 4th graders at the Bartle Elementary School in Highland Park.

DOE Chief of Staff Dave Hespe reads to 4th graders at the Bartle Elementary School in Highland Park.

Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake reads to kindergarteners at Trenton’s PJ Hill Elementary School.

Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake reads to kindergarteners at Trenton’s PJ Hill Elementary School.

Department of Banking and Insurance Acting Commissioner Ken Kobylowski reads to the second grade class at Shrewsbury Borough School, in Shrewsbury.

Department of Banking and Insurance Acting Commissioner Ken Kobylowski reads to the second grade class at Shrewsbury Borough School, in Shrewsbury.

Acting Director of Interdistrict School Choice Maggi Downham and kindergarteners at Oldmans Township Elementary School in Pedricktown.

Acting Director of Interdistrict School Choice Maggi Downham and kindergarteners at Oldmans Township Elementary School in Pedricktown.

School Development Authority CEO Marc Larkins read to students at The Early Childhood School on Clinton Avenue in Newark

School Development Authority CEO Marc Larkins reads to students at The Early Childhood School on Clinton Avenue in Newark

 

View more event photos here