Spread the Words - Read by 3rd!

Spread the Words - Read by 3rd! is an early reading initiative co-sponsored by MICA and the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation. The goal of the initiative is to increase the number of children in Marshalltown reading at grade-level in the third grade to 90% by 2016.


By the third grade, children need to know how to read well because they are no longer “learning to read” but “reading to learn.” In Marshalltown, over 33% of children aren’t able to read proficiently as they leave third grade, and this percentage increases in students with low socio-economic status.


The consequences of not being able to read at grade-level by third grade affect a child throughout their entire school career, even into high school and beyond. The plan of action for resolving the issue is three-fold: improving school readiness, providing summer learning opportunities, and reducing chronic absence.


Each of these issues has a dedicated task force comprised of informed and concerned community members from across the private and public sectors. These task forces plan and implement strategies to boost grade-level reading in their specific areas of concern.

Summer Learning Opportunities

Summer programs are key to early literacy because continual reinforcement and access to learning materials is essential to reading success.


RB3! creates summer learning opportunities, which help offset learning loss by increasing access to summer programs and duplicating the already successful Bobcat University in other elementary neighborhoods.

School Attendance

For each day your child misses school, they spend three days making up the information taught in class. If absences build up, your child is missing out on crucial information that will form the foundation of their reading comprehension.


RB3! seeks to improve student attendance for chronically absent children (those missing 10% or more of the school year) by rewarding good attendance. We hold attendance ceremonies at local schools on a quarterly basis.

School Readiness

Children who don't arrive at Kindergarten ready to learn to read can be at a significant disadvantage compared to their peers.  Quality preschool, efforts at home to encourage literacy, and access to books are key to resolving the issue.


The task force’s strategy includes plans for home visits, providing books and resources to families, and a community-wide campaign to reduce the number of children who are not meeting expected reading levels or have inadequate access to preschool.

Learn More About Grade Level Reading

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This program funded in part by: