By fourth grade, children are expected to use reading to learn other subjects. For this reason, kids who reach fourth grade without being able to read proficiently are more likely to struggle academically and eventually drop out of school. Low reading proficiency also can reduce earning potential and chances for career success as adults.
An alarming rate of public school fourth graders — 65% — were not proficient readers in 2017. Data disaggregated by race reveal clear disparities: 81% of African American, 79% of American Indian, 78% of Latino and 60% of multiracial fourth graders were not proficient in reading in 2017. Yet, just 54% of their white classmates and 44% of their Asian and Pacific Islander classmates failed to hit this same reading proficiency benchmark.