How Serious Are We About Early Learning?
We have eight years in the life of every child to help him or her get ready for school, thrive in school, and love reading by the end of 3rd grade. The question is: How serious are we about doing this?
Knowing that reading is fundamental to learning, this year 14 states passed legislation on early literacy, bringing to 32, plus the District of Columbia, the total number of states with policies to improve 3rd grade reading proficiency. We know that two-thirds of 4th graders are not considered "proficient" readers, as determined by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Worse still, those children who are behind by the end of 3rd grade rarely catch up in 4th grade, yet are expected to read textbooks and face increasingly complex material. And a 1998 study found that 74 percent of students who didn't read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade were still struggling academically in 9th grade. These children were four times more likely than proficient readers to drop out of high school, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
State leaders are searching for ways to respond to the urgent need to increase the number of 3rd graders who read at grade level. A quick fix—retention of failing students—has been hotly debated. But we're having this debate about how to intervene far too late in the life of a child. By the end of 3rd grade, a student is halfway between birth and young adulthood. Long before we make the difficult decision of whether to retain a student, we need to ensure that our schools and our communities do everything in their power to give that child a...
This article is available to subscribers only.
To keep reading this article and more, subscribe now or start a 2-week FREE trial.
Access selected articles, e-newsletters and more!
- Princeton Public School District, Princeton, NJ
- Director of School Support
- The Achievement Network, Multiple Locations
- Perspectives Charter Schools, Chicago, IL
- Assistant/Associate Professor, Literacy
- Regis University, Denver, CO
- Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction
- Lake Forest School District 67 & 115, Lake Forest, IL