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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 6, 2013
 

Media Contact:
Sue Lin Chong | 410.223.2836 | media@aecf.org

Reading Proficiency in Early Grades Key to Closing Achievement Gap

New Research Confirms Importance of Reading on Grade Level by Third Grade

BALTIMORE — Updated research underscores the urgency of ensuring that children develop proficient reading skills by the end of third grade, especially those living in poverty or in impoverished communities, according to a new report, Early Warning Confirmed: A Research Update on Third-Grade Reading, released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

In 2010, the Foundation published Early Warning: Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters, a report that laid out the research basis for focusing on reading proficiency by the third grade as an essential step toward increasing the number of children who succeed academically and do well in life and career. That report also launched the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a network of national and local civic leaders, policymakers, advocates, community organizations and everyday people that focuses on community solutions, quality teaching and strong systems of early education. Since the launch, 124 communities have joined the campaign.

"The research affirms the points we made three years ago. Third-grade reading is a powerful predictor of school success high school graduation. Children who are not ready for school, who miss too many days and who lose ground over the summer months are likely to miss the third-grade reading milestone," said Ralph Smith, senior vice president of Casey and managing director of the GLR Campaign.

“The solutions to helping more children succeed are within our grasp,” said Patrick McCarthy, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “The new report shows even stronger evidence that children can succeed when we focus on such factors as school readiness, school attendance, summer learning, family support and high-quality teaching. It is encouraging to see more communities rally around these strategies and the campaign.”

Early Warning Confirmed supports the link between reading deficiencies and broader social consequences, including how living in poor households and high-poverty neighborhoods contribute to racial disparities in literacy skills in this country and how low achievement in reading impacts an individual’s future earning potential. 

The new report was discussed Tuesday at a Washington Post Live “Reading Milestones” event in the District of Columbia. Speakers included Governors Phil Bryant (R-Miss.), Jack Markell (D-Del.) and Susana Martinez (R-N.M.), along with Chief State School Officers John Barge (Ga.), Randy Dorn (Wash.), Richard Ross (Ohio),Patricia Wright (Va.) and Mick Zais (S.C.), who shared their views on the importance of reading well by the end of third-grade and what their states are doing to elevate reading at this important milestone in a child’s education.

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The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit www.aecf.org.

Download the news release — Reading Proficiency in Early Grades Key to Closing Achievement Gap — as a PDF.