She knows the science technology engineering and math initiative, or "stem" but says a missing letter is equally as important.
I mean if you can't read, they won't know what's going on in the world, how to get anywhere. It’s just very crucial. It’s very important.
But when the Annie P. Casey Foundation found a large number of 4th graders in Alabama aren't reading on grade level, department heads became concerned.
“We want our kids on grade level by the third grade.”
Anthony Stewart is the Elementary Curriculum Supervisor of Houston County Schools.
He says their reading rates are far above that study simply because cognitive reading goes beyond the classroom.
“We do a lot of group work. We pull kids back into small groups. We also challenge those kids that are already there. as parents, we want to know that our kids are being challenged.”
Houston County’s School system uses a program called 'dibels', a series of short tests that keep track of a child's reading comprehension.
If they don't have the reading, they're not going to get the math; they're not going to get the science, not going to get the social studies. So it's no doubt the most important goal that we have in elementary education.
For Harper, the proof is in the performance.
In the beginning of the year I had to do a lot of modeling. Now when I give the students a question, they know what to do.
Knowing what to do, a year earlier than most.