ConnectOC Blog

Literacy key to learning

Posted by: Shelley Hoss on 3/18/2013

By Shelley Hoss
Published in the Orange County Register on March 18, 2013

Want a solution to the dropout crisis?  Teach kids to read before kindergarten.

Imagine if there were a problem that affected one in three high school students (approximately 4 million students a year) resulting in issues that cost U.S. taxpayers more than $8 billion a year? And what if that problem were almost guaranteed to be cyclical, gathering momentum with each new generation? Would it warrant our attention as a critical issue? Of course it would.

That problem is our high school dropout rate. High school dropouts face higher unemployment and greater poverty. They’re more likely to wind up on public assistance, and, statistically speaking, their earning potential is low.  Even more alarming: 59 percent of those who drop out probably will be incarcerated at some point in their life.

 The California Department of Education reports an overall drop-out rate for Orange County of 9.5% (2010-11), but many experts believe that number understates the problem. In the same report, Santa Ana Unified School District is identified as having the county’s highest drop-out rate, at 13.4 percent. Though better than the shocking state average of 14.7 percent, it still means that roughly one in seven students in Santa Ana is not graduating high school.

 "We have a very high dropout rate in Orange County,” says Paula Mathis, board of directors, Orange County Head Start, “And this concerns me, not just for the kids who drop out.   Those kids are going to be parents some day, and if they don't have an education, it's going to be more difficult for their children to get an education, so it perpetuates itself.”

Like most complex issues, dropping out can be affected by many variables, including a lack of perceived relevance of their education, personal or family issues and academic struggles.

However, there is one solution that can have a direct effect on the last factor, and it begins before kindergarten:  early literacy.

According to a comprehensive study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation on how reading skills and poverty influence high school graduation, children not proficient in reading by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than children who read at or above grade level. Remarkably, if they live in poverty, they are 13 times more likely to drop out.

Nearly half—45 percent— of Orange County third graders are not reading at a proficient level.

There is a solution. Research shows that children who attend high-quality preschool are ahead in early reading and math skills, an advantage that continues through their K-12 schooling and into adulthood.

Unfortunately, Orange County has only enough licensed, center-based preschool spaces to accommodate half of our age-eligible children (3 and 4 years old).  Even if we had the spaces available, many Orange County parents simply cannot afford private preschool education, and those are the children most at risk—facing poverty, lower literacy rates among parents and English language learning challenges to boot.

Fortunately, teaching a child to read is not an insurmountable problem. It is a natural extension of their processing of language and decoding the world around them that begins at birth. They just need some help with their A, B, C’s.

Local nonprofits are tackling this challenge with encouraging results through programs such as Readiness on the Road, offered by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Garden Grove. The program serves families of preschoolers from ages 2 to 5 years of age, and offers school-readiness and parenting classes open to the public in Anaheim, Westminster, Santa Ana and Stanton.

These programs provide parent education and opportunities for parents and children to learn together. And it’s working. In the 2011–12 school year, 398 children completed school readiness programs, and 367 children received assessments to determine levels of learning and functioning to better prepare them for future academic success.

By supporting successful programs such as these, we can help ensure that our students—and future generations—can fulfill their full potential.  For more information about closing the education achievement gap, visit

Shelley Hoss is president of the Orange County Community Foundation. She can be reached at


Post Your Comment
1000 characters left


Add Comment
Showing 1 - 6 of 6 Sort by
essay done online
Report | Reply
There exists rising assortment from the pupil community the distance end to end of with people take with him or her on the classroom rich the length of with varied dissimilar language, dialect the length of with literacy skill.
Assignment Help
Report | Reply
I enjoyed over read your blog post. Your blog have nice information, I got good ideas from this amazing blog. I am always searching like this type blog post. I hope I will see again..
Official writing website
Report | Reply
The level of literacy learning required to get along effectively on an everyday premise. Cultural literacy education is the capacity to comprehend and welcome the likenesses and contrasts in the traditions, qualities, and convictions of one's own way of life the way of life of others.
essay service provider
Report | Reply
There exists escalating selection from the pupil populace along with individuals carry with him or her on the classroom wealthy along with diverse different languages, dialects along with literacy skills.
Report | Reply
Some blog are really helpful for our daily life future we should take some good step in which we make some help from rest
write my essay for cheap
Report | Reply
Education means far beyond fundamental abilities, aside from whatever else different subjects ought to make a commitment to the essential aptitudes, additionally inspiration is a key consider fundamental aptitudes achievement, an educational program of solely proficiency and numeracy sounds like a formula for fatigue and irritation. Literacy and numeracy are the center abilities - without them nothing is conceivable. However youngsters are made to move so wellness and physical instruction are essential. Youngsters are characteristically inventive and innovative - expressions of the human experience bolster that. Science, Social Studies and Technology permit understudies to begin to comprehend their general surroundings. They can likewise give understudies something to peruse and expound on.