Sharp reading skills by the end of third grade are considered to be an educational benchmark associated with higher rates of high school graduation, and strong earnings as adults. Most Kansas students are not meeting the goal, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
It finds 62 percent of fourth-grade students are not reading at grade-level, and the percentage is 78 for children in low-income families. Elizabeth Burke Bryant at the Casey Foundation’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading explains.
Burke Bryant says, "Up until third grade, they’re learning to read. After third grade, it’s expected that they know how to read in order to absorb the material."
Burke Bryant says it isn't just about the student. Skilled workers are needed for the country's economic success in the increasingly competitive global economy.
The report recommends investments in early childhood education, reducing school absenteeism in the early years, and targeted programs for struggling readers.
Burke Bryant also says despite the high numbers in Kansas, they are lower than the national average and have shown improvement over the past ten years.
"We are showing some success with fourth grade reading proficiency improving, and now we have to finish the job and make sure that all children are reading proficiently by the end of third grade."
The Casey Foundation report is based on reading scores from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).