Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters

A KIDS COUNT Special Report on the Importance of Reading by 3rd Grade

Posted January 1, 2010
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
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Aecf Early Warningscreenshot 2010


Millions of American children get to fourth grade without learning to read proficiently, and that puts them on the high school dropout track. The ability to read by third grade is critical to a child’s success in school, life-long earning potential and their ability to contribute to the nation’s economy and its security. Children can succeed at advancing to a 3rd grade reading level if policymakers focus on school readiness, school attendance, summer learning, family support and high-quality teaching.

In addition to the full report, an executive summary is available.

Findings & Reading Proficiency Statistics

Reading Proficiency Statements & Quotations

Key 3rd Grade Literacy Takeaway

Every student who does not complete high school costs our society an estimated $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes and productivity

There are 7.9 million low-income children, birth through age 8 in the United States. If current trends hold true, 83%, or 6.6 million of these children, are at increased risk of dropping out of high school because they can't read proficiently by the end of third grade.