Why Reading Proficiently by the 3rd Grade is so Important

An article by Rebekah Holbrook, Director of Community Impact: Education at United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg

The transition from “learning-to-read” to “reading-to-learn” is a critical milestone for children. Students who do not read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade are¬†4 times more likely to drop out of school than those who are proficient readers. And for children who live in poverty, even for just one year, 26% are likely to not graduate from high school.* This is 6 times the rate for all pro cient readers.

In the Richmond Region, 79% of 3rd grade students passed the reading SOL in 2014. The achievement gap between low-income kids and their more affluent peers is more pronounced. For localities with greater poverty, the passage rate was much lower. All of our school systems are working on intervention programs to achieve greater 3rd grade reading proficiency. To effectively move forward, the region needs to invest in gathering and analyzing data for quality improvement and greater alignment of public and private dollars and turn attention to the positive transition between school and college/career. Coordination of a region-wide Grade Level Reading Campaign, consistent execution of summer learning loss programs, and adoption of trauma-informed and whole-family approaches are several additional measures to consider. Broader public support and sharing of best practices across school systems is essential as our schools strive to provide excellent educational experiences for our children.

*Early Warning! Why Reading By the End of Third Grade Matters. Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2010.
http://www.aecf.org/resources/early-warning-why-reading- by-the-end-of-third-grade-matters/