Gov. and Mrs. Deal Determined to Get Georgia Reading

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Gov. and Mrs. Deal with children at Capitol

Nearly 70 percent of Georgia’s fourth graders are not reading proficiently, one in three high-school students in Georgia is not graduating, and children from low-income families are hearing 32 million fewer words by age 4 than their more affluent peers.

Gov. Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal are determined to resolve this reading crisis and close this literacy gap. This week they kicked off Read Across Georgia Month in support of the governor’s Grade-Level Reading Initiative—an effort to have all students reading proficiently by the end of third grade.

Why This Matters

friends at Read Across Georgia kick-off event

“Sandra and I have made increasing the percentage of Georgia’s third-grade students reading at grade level a top priority,” said Deal. “With the help of state agencies and organizations, we have made great strides in achieving this goal. When we fail to strategically invest resources in our youngest students, we are forced to spend more money trying to remediate them later. By prioritizing early childhood education, we ensure that our youngest students are positioned for future academic excellence.”

Research shows that grade-level reading by the end of third-grade is a reliable barometer of whether students will succeed in school, graduate from high school, and ultimately become self-sufficient adults. Students not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than students who are reading on grade level.

“This should matter to all Georgians, because this crisis of illiteracy is undermining our children’s health, our state’s economy, and our national security,” said Arianne B. Weldon, director of the Georgia Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “The good news is that this is a solvable problem. We can overcome this crisis in Georgia through a systematic, cross-sector approach grounded in reliable data and implemented through a common agenda. Gov. Deal has made grade-level reading a priority, and later this spring Georgia will launch a campaign to raise the bar for academic success for all children.”

Get Georgia Reading Campaign logo

Get Georgia Reading—the Georgia Campaign for Grade-Level Reading—is a broad-based coalition made up of hundreds of state and private partners, community groups, and advocates committed to ensuring that all children in Georgia are proficient readers by the end of third grade.

“Our goal,” said Weldon, “is that by 2020 all children in Georgia will read proficiently by the end of third grade. We can start by talking with our children and reading to them for 15 minutes everyday. It’s time to get Georgia reading.”

Following the governor and first lady’s lead, Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP) has joined the Campaign, and in 2013 launched a statewide early-learning—grade-level reading initiative dedicated to developing and implementing strategies that address this key indicator.

“Grade-level reading is an indicator of well-being later in life,” said GaFCP Executive Director Gaye Smith. “Our goal is to be a part of the solution at both the state and local-level, and to bring attention to where it intersects with other indicators to improve child and family well-being across the state.”

With help from state and community partners, and investors, GaFCP is providing a cohort of three Collaborative organizations—Polk, Charlton, and Seminole counties—with resources, assistance, and a structure to team up with their peers in other counties struggling with the same indicator.

“We need children to want to learn to read,” said the governor, “because ultimately it’s up to them as to whether or not they succeed. This inspiration can take place at school, but also at home with supportive parents to encourage our students to learn to read.

To learn more about the Get Georgia reading Campaign, contact Arianne Weldon at

Find out why early learning is vital to Georgia’s future prosperity.


Bill Valladares
GaFCP Communications Director
404-527-7394 (x113)

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