The
Problem


Out of the 159 elementary schools within Houston ISD, 31% (49 schools) of them fail to meet 3rd grade STAAR reading requirements.1

In addition, 60% of Houston children enter kindergarten each year lacking requisite reading skills2 and 63% of Houston 3rd graders do not read at grade level.3

Poverty compounds the problem:
  • Students who live in poverty are 3 times more likely to drop out or fail to graduate on time than their more affluent peers; if they read poorly, too, the rate is 6 times greater than that for all proficient readers.4

  • Economically disadvantaged children hear 30 million FEWER words by age 3 than their more affluent peers. This is known as the "30 million word gap."5

  • 1 book is available for every 300 children in low-income areas as compared to an average of 12 books in the homes of their more affluent peers.a

Executive Director

JACQUE DAUGHTRY

Jacque received her bachelor’s degree in Business, with an emphasis in Personnel Management, from the University of Houston and has 25 years’ experience in accounting and business management in the for-profit sector. Her passion for serving children and her community as a church volunteer and in multiple volunteer capacities at each HISD school her children attended, paved the way for her to help launch Making It Better in 2006. Jacque considers it an honor and privilege to serve the organization’s students, their dedicated staff and board of directors, and their Houston ISD partner schools.

Research indicates the road to incarceration begins as early as kindergarten, linking reading difficulties with severe behavior problems. Low literacy is proven to be a significant factor for almost all social ills, including crime rates, dropout rates, joblessness, and homelessness.

89%

of children in Houston do not attend a Head Start or pre-kindergarten program6

Children who do not read on grade level by the end of 3rd grade have only a 1 in 8 chance of ever catching up and are 4 times more likely to drop out of school7

85%

of youth who interface with the juvenile justice system are functionally illiterate8
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Only 14% of Houston highschool students are 'College Ready'9

1 in 5 Houston adults is functionally illiterate.b

70% of inmates in American prisons cannot read above a 4th grade level.c

a-c: Baker, et al. (2013). Houston's Literacy Crisis: A Blueprint for Community Action.

1 Texas Education Agency (2019), 2018-19 School Report Card.

2 Children's Defense Fund-Texas (2015), New Census Data Show Texas Leaving More Children in Poverty Than Any Other State, Except California.

3 Texas Education Agency (2019), STARR Aggregate Data for 2018-19.

4 The Annie E. Casey Foundation (2012), Double Jeopardy: How Poverty & Third-Grade Reading Skills Influence High School Graduation.

5 American Federation of Teacher (2003), The Early Catastrophe The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3 - by University of Kansas researchers Betty Har and Todd R. Risley.

6 TPIER Texas Education Agency (2019), Texas Public Prekindergarten Programs and Enrollment Ages 3 and 4.

7 Zickuhr, Kathryn and Lee, Rainie (2014), Pew Research Center, A Snapshot of Reading in America in 2013.

8 The Register-Herald (2014), Functional illiteracy continues to grow, but there is help - by John Blankenship.

9 Texas Education Agency (2017), Texas Academic Performance Report 2016-17.