The challenge is meant to complement classroom instruction by helping students grow their love of learning, Superintendent Watlington said, while they practice literacy skills at home like vocabulary and reading comprehension.

Advocates and others say the city’s “Read by 4th” campaign and other efforts have built a strong foundation.

Brent Johnstone and Akeiff Staples started FathersRead365 from scratch five years ago and worked hard to expand its reach.  

But district data suggest drops were similar across racial, socioeconomic lines