Like many people, you probably know that education matters. Education determines all kinds of future successes. You probably also know that not everyone benefits from the same quality of education, which means that there is a huge and growing need for solutions to education-related problems.
What you may not know, however, is what education looks like in Utah County. In United Way of Utah County's 2011 Community Assessment, we turned up a few things that are cause for concern. That's when the EveryDay Learners movement was born. Since then, we've made a lot of progress--but there's still a long way to go.
Increase in number of high school dropouts
In 2011, approximately 1,100 students in the three Utah County school districts dropped out of high school. The statewide graduation rate was only 76%. Three years later, in 2014, approximately 970 students dropped out. Although the statewide graduation rate has improved to 83%, there's still a lot to do. The percentages may be higher, but each student who drops out faces severe challenges. We need all of our students to graduate in order to keep our community vibrant.
Greater dropout rate among minorities
Hispanic and Latino students drop out of high school at nearly twice the rate of all other students in Utah County. Students that are second language learners are at even higher risk of dropping out. And by 2040, nearly 20 percent of Utah County will be Hispanic or Latino. This population needs the support of our community.
Low third grade reading scores
Students who read at grade level in third grade are four to six times more likely to graduate from high school. In 2011 in Utah County, however, we noticed that third grade reading scores were dropping. Approximately three out of ten third graders were reading below grade level. Since then, we've made some progress. In 2013, only two out of ten third graders were reading below grade level. But this still means that 20% of our kids are at a higher risk of dropping out of high school . There's still a lot of work to do.
Where do we go from here?
Despite the progress that we've made, there's still a long way to go. Many of our students remain at risk of dropping out, and that's something that needs to change. We do not understand all the reasons why these things happen, but we do know that there are things we can do to help. Since third grade reading scores are such an important predictor of academic success, we can start there. We can give our kids the support they need to read while they are young. We can work together as a community to make education--and reading--a priority in our lives. We can make a difference for the children in our neighborhoods.
That is why we are inviting you to join the movement. Get involved in any way you can. Help us create a culture of education in our community. Be a vehicle for change and be an EveryDay Learner.