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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fort Worth is looking at ways to improve education for young children at community centers, churches and after school programs as well as in schools to boost fundamental reading skills.

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The community-wide effort started when two, highly recruited businesses told the city and Mayor Price they were going elsewhere, taking around 200 well-paying jobs with them due to the area’s school systems.

“It hurt, you know?” Mayor Betsy Price said about the rejection. “It did surprised me, but… it didn’t if that makes sense. I had an inkling that education was really struggling.”

The businesses saw about 70 percent of local third graders aren’t reading at their grade level.

“They said ‘we will tell you honestly — we are worried about your pipeline for an educated work force.’ And they said it is true in most of the major cities around here,” said Mayor Price.

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Studies show that of the students behind at third grade, 75 percent will never catch up.

And they are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

Mayor Price put together a coalition with the city, Fort Worth ISD and businesses and churches. Right now they are looking for ways to receive 100 percent of 3rd grade reading levels up to par within ten years.

“We want to know,” said Fort Worth Literacy Partnership Executive Director Kristin Sullivan. “Do our teachers have the support they need? Do they need additional professional development? Do we have highly effective teachers in the early grades when kids are really learning how to read?”

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