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How Baltimore Is Getting Kids To Read in A City Where Only 15% Read At Grade Level

By Victor Trammell

The U.S. city of Baltimore has been trying to tackle a literacy problem, which is prevalent among the city’s public school children.

Statisticians working with Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) recently did an internal assessment of the school district’s tests scores for children in grades three through 10. These analysts were observing scores from last school year’s Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test.

The numbers painted a dismal picture of BCPS’s current situation regarding the literacy of its third through 10th-grade students. Only 15 percent of BCPS’s third through 10th-grade students are performing English and language arts at their grade level. There is also a sizable disparity between black and white students in these grade levels.

In its analysis, BCPS also found that 31 percent of white students met their grade-level academic expectations. However, only 13 percent of black students met theirs. Thankfully, there is a team of renowned black writers working with the city of Baltimore to help make reading fashionable to black students.

Two of the black writers are contributors to the City Paper news publication in Baltimore. “These writers are spearheading a movement that encourages literacy that meets young readers halfway and counters so many of the problems that have marred past attempts at engaging black folk,” wrote Tariq Touré, a columnist for the City Paper.

Another one of the black writers working with BCPS to increase literacy is Bilphena Yahwon, a Baltimore-based Towson undergrad who is a published author. Her book “Gold Womyn: Teaching Gold-mah How to Heal Herself” is what she calls “a testament that black Baltimore has and needs an inventory of voices.”

The book contains thought-provoking poetry and has become very popular with the Baltimore youths who are learning a lot from this team of black writers. To read more about this amazing initiative geared toward helping black BCPS students achieve literacy, click here.

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