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Roanoke General City News

Posted on: June 7, 2018

Roanoke Receives 4th Consecutive Pacesetter Honors from National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Roanoke, VA – The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (GLR) announced today that it will recognize Roanoke’s Star City Reads initiative with Pacesetter Honors for its work in 2017. Roanoke also received Pacesetter Honors for its efforts in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Roanoke is the only Virginia community to receive the award this year.

“Recognizing Pacesetters is our way of applauding and thanking the civic leaders, organizations and agencies that have joined forces to build brighter futures for children in their communities,” said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “Mobilized communities — like these Pacesetters — are essential to closing the achievement gap.”

Each year, the GLR Campaign uses its Pacesetter Honors to highlight communities that report making measurable progress on key indicators of early school success. Roanoke’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading initiative, Star City Reads, is led by Roanoke Public Libraries. The coalition now consists of 29 partners, including the City of Roanoke, Feeding America Southwest Virginia, the Roanoke City Public Schools, the Roanoke Police Department, Turn the Page, the Virginia Tech-Carilion Research Institute, and other community organizations.

“Roanoke is proud to receive Pacesetter Honors for the fourth year in a row," said Sheila Umberger, Director of Roanoke Public Libraries. "This designation, a year after our record seventh All-America City Award, recognizes our city’s continued dedication to measurably improving early school outcomes for all our children. While we are pleased with the progress our Star City Reads coalition continues to make for Roanoke’s children, and we aim for even greater success moving forward.”

Roanoke is being recognized as a Pacesetter for demonstrating promise and/or progress in collaborative efforts, and for demonstrating measurable progress. Since 2013, grade-level reading rates have improved from 65.1 percent to 76.1 percent for all Roanoke City Public Schools third graders, as measured by pass rates on the Virginia Standards of Learning exam. In 2013, 60.5 percent of low-income third graders were proficient readers; in 2017, 73.5 percent were. This progress indicates that Roanoke is not only moving the needle, but is taking concrete steps towards closing the gap.

Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is a critical milestone toward high school graduation and career success because it marks the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” National tests show that two-thirds of U.S. fourth-graders are not reading proficiently. Students who have not mastered reading by that time are more likely to drop out of high school and struggle throughout their lives. The Star City Reads coalition hopes that the rise in the number of children learning to read on time indicates that the future is bright for all Roanoke City children.

Launched in 2010, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a collaborative national effort to ensure that many more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. Since its launch, the GLR Campaign has grown to include more than 360 communities, representing 43 states. To learn more, visit and follow the movement on Twitter @readingby3rd.

In 2012, the City of Roanoke won its sixth All-America City Award for its plan for the Star City Reads initiative. In 2017, Roanoke won a seventh All-America City Award for its progress. To learn more about Star City Reads, including how to help, visit,, or follow @StarCityReads on Instagram and Twitter.

For more information, please call (540) 853-5842 or email


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