Research shows that early literacy and reading skills are critical components of a child’s success. Parents are a key part of helping kids prepare for school and to meet important literacy milestones. Once kids arrive at school there are many ways teachers work to develop reading skills. Meanwhile, community leaders play a role in recognizing obstacles to a child’s success and supporting schools and families.
Start Smart Texas, a partnership of the Texas Education Agency (TEA), United Ways of Texas (UWT), Texas PBS and the National Campaign for Grade Level Reading, builds on national research to empower parents to help with their child’s success. By working with families, community leaders and schools we are building a team to help every child succeed in school and in life.
This goal of this initiative is to empower parents with tips that inspire positive interactions between caregiver and child to promote healthy brain development, early literacy and reading skills. We are working to create a statewide initiative to promote and improve reading skills. We work in partnership with statewide organizations and local community groups to build an evidence-based strategy and network of organizations that will work together to increase reading proficiency rates across the state.
Although schools must be accountable for helping all children achieve, we believe that schools cannot succeed alone. Engaged communities mobilized to remove barriers, expand opportunities, and assist parents in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities to serve as full partners in the success of their children are needed to assure student success.
Start Smart Texas currently includes 6 cities that have developed community-wide plans: Austin, Brownsville, Dallas, Houston, Palacios, San Antonio. Several additional communities across the state are in the process of developing their own local plans focused on supporting student learning from early childhood through elementary school.
Together these communities form a learning community that exchanges best practices and learns from each other’s success. Four additional communities are currently developing plans for the National Campaign status: Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth and Brownsville. These communities will form the foundation of the statewide campaign dedicated to improving student outcomes.