Early Reading Proficiency Closes Achievement Gaps

Last year the Annie E. Casey Foundation issued the report Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters. A new report sponsored by the foundation looks at the likelihood of graduation by different reading-skill levels and poverty experiences.

Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation, by Hunter College professor Donald J. Hernandez, found that low reading skills are an even stronger predictor of failure to graduate than spending at least one year in poverty.

“In fact, 89 percent of students in poverty who did read on level by 3rd grade graduated on time, statistically no different from the students who never experienced poverty but did struggle with reading early on,” according to an EdWeek blog on the report.

In the blog post, reporter Sarah Sparks noted that because 3rd grade is the first accountability point under NCLB, it’s hard to say conclusively whether reading gaps actually emerge in earlier grades.