Student rates

BAILEY: Summer reading programs can improve student performance | Opinion

In December 2015, Congress repealed the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, a standards-based education bill, and replaced it with the Every Student Succeeds Act. States applying for Title 1 funds must participate in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in Reading and Mathematics for Grades 4 and 8 and report the results.

Recently, NAEP released its findings, aptly called The Nation’s Report Card. There is bad news and slightly better news.

Let’s start with the bad news. Math scores fell for both years in nearly every state. Reading scores were only marginally better in less than half of the states. The 2022 national reading proficiency levels for grades 4 and 8 are 33% and 31% respectively.

In New York, 30% of fourth-grade students are proficient in reading. The slightly better news is that 32% of eighth graders are proficient; this is a meager increase over the national average. Some education experts attribute the improvement in reading to parents helping their children during the pandemic. The closure has created an opportunity for parents and guardians to engage in reading activities with their children.

Not all children may be successful, but there are programs that can help young students improve their reading scores and have fun while doing it.

In 2016, the New York State Library collaborated with more than 1,000 public libraries to launch “Summer Reading at New York Libraries.” The annual program is free and offers a range of enrichment activities and learning resources for students of all ages.

145th Assemblyman Angelo J. Morinello, in cooperation with Summer Reading at New York Libraries, has sponsored the New York State Assembly Summer Reading Challenge annually since 2017 , when he was first sworn in.

As a trustee of the Niagara Falls Public Library Board and as a bookworm, I welcome the opportunity to discuss books, libraries, and the importance of reading. I contacted Morinello, a fellow bibliophile, to ask about the challenge. He could have emailed it to me, but he hand-delivered copies of the submission forms from 2018 to 2022 as well as a 2022 statistics report from last summer’s challenge.

Each summer, the New York State Library chooses a theme and every public and private school principal receives a call to inform them of the program. The Niagara Aquarium launched this year’s theme, “Oceans of Possibilities,” a celebration of all things water.

In the summer of 2022, in the 145th Assembly District, 218 K-7 students attending 21 schools, including home-schooled students, participated in the program. Ninety-eight children completed the challenge, a completion rate of approximately 45%, which set a record for the highest rate to date. Grade 3 ranked highest with 19.4% and Grade 6 participants at the lowest with less than 2%. There is room for improvement.

Every school with 10 or more participants who complete the challenge gets a pizza night, courtesy of Morinello. Huth Road Elementary (Grand Island), St. Stephen School (Grand Island) and Catholic Academy (Niagara Falls) were this year’s winners.

We know that early education improves educational outcomes. Encouraging children to participate in programs like Summer Reading at New York City Libraries teaches them to develop a reading community with their peers and build their self-confidence.

It’s never too early to plan for next summer. Summer Reading at New York Libraries ( offers a variety of book lists, activities, and other resources for students, parents, and teachers.

I asked Morinello what his challenge goal was for 2023. He grinned and said, “Sharon, reading is so precious, and this program is very important to me. I would like to organize a pizza night for each school in my district. »