NCRHLA Publishes Report on Childhood Reading Proficiency and Health Outcomes

Rural communities are unique, and failure to address the particular strengths they possess and the challenges they face can result in poor health outcomes in our rural areas.

– NC Rural Health Leadership Alliance

The NC Rural Health Leadership Alliance (NCRHLA), established in 2014 by the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation, aims to improve the health of rural North Carolinians through collaboration, forums and work groups to discuss and foster implementation of rural health solutions. In December, an NCRHLA work group on Early Childhood published a report to examine how children in rural and non-rural communities differ along key measures that impact third grade reading proficiency.

Why is this important?

Research shows that improving third grade reading takes a coordinated birth-through-age-eight approach that focuses on children’s health and development, families and communities, and high-quality learning environments with regular attendance. When children are healthy, develop on track, live in supported and supportive families and communities, and receive high quality education, they are more likely not only to read on grade level by third grade, but to have overall child well-being and a brighter future.

Notably, the report found that children in rural communities are likely to experience challenges along the pathway to grade-level reading at a higher rate than their non-rural peers.

Scope of current project:

The NCRHLA Early Childhood work group, in tandem with the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Initiative, has charged itself with assessing how rural communities fare in three areas critical to achieving grade-level reading proficiency:

  • Health and Development on Track Beginning at Birth
  • High Quality Birth-through-Age-Eight Learning Environments with Regular Attendance
  • Supported and Supportive Families and Communities

NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading is an initiative of the NC Early Childhood Foundation, in collaboration with the NC Partnership for Children, NC Child and BEST NC. Thirty experts from North Carolina’s leading universities, research institutes, government agencies, nonprofits, businesses and think tanks—in partnership with Pathways to Grade-Level Reading partners, a group 150 strong and growing—co-created the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Measures of Success Framework. The Framework includes nearly 60 measures that research tells us move the needle on third grade reading proficiency, arrayed under the three goal areas noted above.

Where can I access the full report?

NCRHLA-Early Childhood in Rural North Carolina