STOCKTON -- Stockton Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy pumped up Nightingale Elementary students in an effort to combat a recent literacy report that showed progress but still much room for improvement in San Joaquin County schools.
"What I like about reading is there’s a lot of stuff that you can just imagine," said third-grader Star Hinton.
With the help of her siblings, Star reads at a fifth-grade level.
However, Star’s success isn’t as widespread throughout the district as teachers and administrators would like.
The San Joaquin County Literacy Report card issued by the University of the Pacific did show there was a 4 percent increase of third graders reading at or above grade level, but that 39 percent proficiency lags behind the state average of 49 percent.
"There’s a great deal more to be done," Deasy said. "We no longer want to be the county with such a low literacy rate."
To fight it, the Stockton Unified School District is encouraging students district-wide to read 12 books in 12 weeks.
Star has some words of encouragement for her fellow students.
"Even if you don't think that you know how, you can still do it," she said.
The report also found San Joaquin County schools have a higher rate of chronic absenteeism. Last school year, 14.9 percent of San Joaquin Unified students missed ten or more percent of school. The state average was 11.1 percent.
Superintendent Deasy says Stockton students are already improving.