States Are Ratcheting Up Reading Expectations For 3rd-Graders
Third grade reading performance is one of the most important early benchmarks we have for predicting a student’s long-term academic and career success. As a result, several states are exploring new ways to improve third grade reading and close achievement gaps.
This month, NPR reported that states work to increase third grade reading levels are looking to a variety of new policies:
[S]tudies have shown that a child’s early literacy skills can have long-term implications. One out of six students who are not reading proficiently by fourth grade, according to a study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, don’t graduate from high school on time. That rate is four times greater than that of proficient readers…
Conversely, attending a high-quality preschool can be a boon, particularly for students from underprivileged backgrounds. Next door to Rosa Parks is an early childhood center run by the Community Action Project. It’s one of several sites operated by the nonprofit across the Tulsa region. CAP only accepts students whose families are very low income, and it keeps a long waiting list. And while it is funded with state and federal resources, it is also supported by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, which has heavily invested in early childhood education in the state.
Touring the facility, it becomes evident how early education can help prepare kids for elementary school. Class sizes are capped at the facility — there is a maximum of 20 students in the 4-year-olds’ classrooms, and the numbers are even lower for younger ages. Each classroom also has two teachers.
Right here in Tennessee, The Jackson Sun reported on ways the community is coming together to improve literacy and achievement gaps:
Community leaders in education, career readiness and youth organizations met for the second time at the end of June to discuss increasing reading proficiency and bridging learning gaps.
With a “Leaders Are Readers” initiative — organized by community activist Don Polley and Jackson native and author Dr. Karessa Morrow— the group discussed:
- Raising the bar for reading proficiency so that all students are reading on grade level
- Closing the gap in reading achievement that separates many low-income students from their peers, and
- Ensuring all children, including and especially children from low-income families, have an equitable opportunity to meet higher standards placed on literacy skills.
In Nashville, three out of four students do not meet basic grade level reading standards by the end of third grade. We know we can improve literacy rates and do more for students earlier. Read our blog post on efforts to improve literacy rates and how you can help.