Teachers have known that if a child isn't reading by the end of third grade, he or she will have a hard time catching up.
"Kids who don't catch up are more likely to miss school, kids who miss school are more likely to drop out," Mayor Jean Quan said.
Quan has joined a literacy campaign to make kids more successful at reading.
Right now in Oakland, only 42 percent of students finishing the third grade can read at grade level. The Rogers Family Foundation is spearheading the community effort by bringing in more foundations to help fund programs that will increase the literacy rate.
"Now we have a citywide campaign with over 100 organizations participating all toward this goal of 85 percent of kids reading at grade level by the end of third grade by 2020," Brian Rogers of the Rogers Family Foundation said.
Monday, education and civic leaders sat down to talk about the type of programs that will make the Oakland Read 2020 campaign a reality.
The school district thinks it can reach that goal in part by expanding the number of preschools in Oakland.
"People going door to door getting young people who weren't otherwise in preschool into some of the preschool slots in Oakland," Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Tony Smith said.
The district will also pay close attention to school attendance. Too many children miss too many days of school.
The third goal is to offer summer programs so that kids can continue to learn and nothing is lost. Right now the Oakland Public Library has a summer reading and lunch program.
The fourth plan is to reach out to Oakland families asking them to get a lot more involved in their kids' education. Educators agree parent involvement is one of the crucial pieces of this plan.