As I reported last week, the Joint Committee on Education of the Massachusetts Legislature has reported favorably on An Act Relative to Third Grade Reading Proficiency. Children’s ability to read by the end of third grade strongly predicts their chances of future success. Yet in Massachusetts, 39% of third graders are not proficient readers, according to the 2011 MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System).
The PowerPoint accompanying this post offers more information on this critical educational issue. It also outlines research-based strategies to improve literacy outcomes, culled from “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” the 2010 report commissioned by Strategies for Children that is included in the legislation.
Check out the PowerPoint for a closer look at the research and the road to reading success. Research tells us, for instance, that 74% of children who struggle with reading in third grade will continue to struggle in school, substantially reducing the likelihood that they will finish high school. In Massachusetts, where only 83% of ninth graders graduate from high school four years later, each dropout costs the commonwealth an estimated $456,354 more over his/her lifetime than the average high school graduate in lower earnings and tax revenues, higher Medicaid and other public assistance costs, and higher incarceration costs.
What will it take to move the needle on third grade reading? Define reading success as including both comprehension and fluency. Recognize that the solution begins at birth. Ensure high-quality experiences in all the settings where children learn. And align solutions across the birth to third grade continuum.
Enactment of An Act Relative to Third Grade Reading Proficiency is part of the solution. The education committee’s favorable report on the bill is only one step in the legislative process. It must be approved by the full Legislature and Governor Deval Patrick. Massachusetts readers, please click here to urge your legislators to support An Act Relative to Third Grade Reading Proficiency.