Reading Proficiency in Early Grades Key to Closing Achievement Gap

Posted June 6, 2013
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Newsrelease earlywarningrelease 2013

New­ly released research from the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion con­tin­ues to demon­strate how crit­i­cal it is to have chil­dren read­ing pro­fi­cient­ly by the end of third grade.

The new report titled, 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.

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.”

The new report was dis­cussed dur­ing 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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