New Report: Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters
Posted by on May 24, 2010
Zeroing in on a critical benchmark
According to a new report from the Annie E. Casey foundation, “the time is now to build a consensus” around the urgent fact that millions of American children get to the fourth grade without learning to read proficiently, putting them on the path to dropping out. By the beginning of the fourth grade, the ability to read is a “make-or-break” benchmark in a child’s education, since until this point the curriculum is centered on learning to read, and after this point a certain literacy is assumed. Compounding the crisis is the fact that the definition of “proficiency” varies from state to state, leading to an underreporting via state testing data. The study therefore recommends that extensive efforts are made to address a “readiness gap” — disparities between high-income and low-income children in readiness to learn — that in turn develops into the “achievement gap.” Current national policies and funding streams are too fragmented to yield widespread positive results. A coherent system of early care and education must be implemented; parents, caregivers, and families must be enlisted as “co-producers” of good outcomes for children; low-performing schools must be transformed; and practical and scalable solutions must be found to address chronic absence from school and summer learning loss.
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