(WXYZ) — A 2019 Michigan student test of educational progress shows only 15.7 percent of third graders in Detroit were reading at grade level. That's why 7 Action News and the Scripps Howard Foundation's Give A Child a Book campaign is putting thousands of books into schools and homes to help bridge the reading gap.
For Valerie Goldsmith, nothing is more important than motherhood. That's why she takes a bus to bring her children to Matrix Human Service's head start program in Detroit, and reading is a big part of it.
"For the 4 and 3-year-old, it's helping with their word development and they love to read already because of head start," Goldsmith said.
But she worries because her 9-year-old daughter (name?) is cognitively delayed. She's like many kids in metro Detroit who struggle with reading.
"Why are so many kids in Detroit and cities like Detroit so behind," said Cristal Claussen, director of Matrix Human Services Head Start. "There's not much focus in preschool in the city."
Statewide, just over 44 percent of third-graders were proficient in reading in 2019. There are 7 early warning signs.
1. A child cannot remember letter sounds, for example: A is for Apple
2. A child may confuse letters that look alike, consider the example - B and D, or even P
3. A child may also confuse like sounding letters like F and V
4. Also, they have difficulty rhyming words like Bat, Cat and Mat. And sight words are not easily recognized like The, It or A
5. A child may omit endings such as -ing or -ed
6. And they have poor memory, meaning they can't remember what they just read
7. Lastly, they spell the same word differently within the same document, for example, they'll write "bekus" once and then spell it "beacuz" on second reference. This could indicate a writing disorder or a language based issue like dyslexia.
Michigan's new law will hold a child back who is not at a third grade reading level.
For Goldsmith's 9-year-old, head start gave her the tools as a mother to help put her child on the right path forward.
"She was like, 'let's go to Denny's,'" Goldsmith said. "And I looked at her like you can read that cause she's never been to Denny's, never heard me say it and it just surprised me and it was a proud moment for me."