Parental Action Needed: 48% of Students at Otay Elementary Read Below Grade Level

I cried at Back to School Night yesterday at Otay Elementary. 

It was one of those adult cries that brings tears to your eyes, but you pretend you just got something in your eye. 

Our Principal, Monica Castillo, fought the crowd for attention as she explained to the school that only 48% of the students were reading at grade level.

This was no surprise and sadly, even these numbers were a vast improvement. When she started working there in the 2016-2017 school year, the problem was even worse, back then only 15% of the students were reading at grade level. 

This is a huge problem for our community, as now we are sending kids to Castle Park Middle, and then Castle Park High, always chronically behind in reading. 

So what is the solution? Principal Castillo is asking us to read more at home. 

“Read the cereal boxes, put the subtitles on the television, sing karaoke at home.”

Those were some of the suggestions I caught. 

This is not enough for a chronically-behind-in-reading school.  

What exactly has Otay Elementary been doing to solve this problem? I do not know. 

This makes me part of the problem. 

I am ready to be a part of the solution. 

Here are my action steps:

1. Don’t run away. Acknowledge that this is MY problem. This is my home town, my community, the place where I am raising my kids and likely the place I will live when I am of retirement age. If “these kids” don’t get it together, it will be ME, who is dealing with an illiterate community. 

2. Make a harder commitment to read to my Falcon (Otay Elementary is home of the Falcons). My daughter prefers dance and the arts, and I am usually happy to let her be. As long as she is keeping up with her classmates, and her classmates are keeping up with the whole, I feel secure.

  No more. 

She needs to step up her reading game so that her peers can do the same. She needs nightly reading and lots of practice. We will lead by example, even if her teachers can’t see what we do at home. 

3. Be THAT mom. I wrote down the dates, and expect to be at all those meetings. This is a group effort, and in order to be a part of the group solution, I have to see what the group has already been doing. 

4. Write this article. We cannot solve a problem that has not been identified. Chula Vista, there is a big problem at Otay Elementary. Let’s read our way out of it. 

It’s August. How many books have you read this year? 

What do you think?
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Melissa Cota

Melissa Cota

Melissa Cota is a Freelance Writer and long time education advocate, who has worked as a Reading Coach, Tutor, and High School Teacher. She grew up attending Chula Vista schools including Kellogg Elementary, Castle Park Middle and Castle Park High. She went on to receive a Bachelor's Degree from San Diego State University and now hopes to positively affect the Chula Vista Elementary School District through involved parenting.

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