A recent report from the Annie E Casey Foundation highlights the importance of reading, especially in the early years of life. Though we have known for a while how important early reading is, their findings show highlight the importance for a child to be reading proficiently by the end of the third grade. Children who are reading at grade level by this time are less likely to drop out of high school, and thus are more likely to be higher wage earners, less likely to be arrested, and less likely to have a child as a teenager.
Why is the 3rd grade so important?
Up to the third grade, education is focused on helping children learn to read. Activities and instruction are geared toward expanding and sharpening these skills. However, in the change from third to fourth grade there is a shift in education and instruction. In the fourth grade typically students are now reading to learn. In order to understand the information being taught in all areas, the student must be able to read at their grade leve. It is reported that if the student is not proficiently reading at a third grade level by the fourth grade they could miss as much as half of the information being presented. Teachers rely on the students ability to be able to read and comprehend material to teach them about different subjects. Therefore, lowered reading skills begin to affect all other areas such as social studies, math and science.
Considering how important reading skills are at this age, it may not be surprising to learn that if a student is not reading well, they may also be more likely to have behavioral and social problems. Because of the importance of reading for comprehension at this time, it is easy to understand how a student may begin to act out in other ways if they are not understanding the material being taught.
Who is affected?
According to the report, many students are not reaching proficiency by the third grade, and this is a big problem. These students are our future workers- our future thinkers, educators and businessmen and women- and they are often starting out missing the skills they need. It was found that by the third grade over 50% of students are not reading proficiently. This is regardless of income, race or location (urban, suburban, rural). Even more shocking, however, is that when we consider income, over 80% are not reading proficiently at their age group, in all locations (urban, suburban and rural).
Check back later for Part 2, To find out how you, as a parent, can help your child succeed.