Third grade is generally regarded as a critical point in a child’s educational development. Research shows that those children who cannot read at grade level at this stage are at a significant disadvantage throughout their education career. The academy is designed to focus on students individual educational needs. Classes are held each year in non-traditional learning venues within the Richmond community.


Develop Reading Skills

Promote Literacy

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Why This Is Important

Not reading on grade level at this age is a highly-correlated “early predictor” of dropping out of high school.

Despite the best efforts of their teachers, approximately 30% of Richmond students do not pass the third-grade ISTEP+ Language Arts (Reading) test – the first in the series of statewide ISTEP+ tests.

Program Goals

  • —Increase reading performance by one F&P level.
  • —Increase performance on standardized reading tests.
  • —Increase positive attitude toward reading.

How It Works

The Third Grade Academy is a community-based “school without walls.” Students choose one or more learning sites best suited to them, based on their interests. The locations have included settings at local colleges, museums, the arboretum, and the public library. Full-day classes are scheduled over a four-week period beginning in late June. Classes, limited to 10 students, are directed by highly trained teachers and an instructional assistant. The standards-based curriculum is focused on reading and writing, with an eye toward skills assessed by the IRead3 exam.

The Results

The Academy features full-day classes scheduled over a four-week period beginning in late June. Classes, limited to ten students are directed by highly trained teachers and an instructional assistant. The standards-based curriculum is focused on reading and writing, with an eye toward skills assessed by the ISTEP+ exam.

Pre- and post-tests showed that Third Grade Academy Students increase their average scores in that period.

An immeasurable benefit of the summer learning experience was a change in student attitude toward reading in particular and learning in general. According to their personal comments, students grew in their love of reading and were developing a love for learning.


Origins of the Academy

In 2007, local citizens decided it was time to try an experiment in support of the regular educational system. The result: an intensive, independent, voluntary, community-based, instructional program with a single, laser-like focus – to make sure that all third-grade students in Richmond would be reading on grade level by the time they entered the fourth grade.

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