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Kids Count News January 2014

New KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot on Early Reading Proficiency

The end of third grade marks the point when children transition from learning to read to reading to learn other subjects. Children who are proficient readers by the end of third grade are more likely to graduate from high school and to be economically successful in adulthood. “Early Reading Proficiency in the United States” – a data snapshot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation – finds that 80 percent of fourth graders from low-income families and 66 percent of all fourth-graders are not reading at grade level. While improvements have been made in the past decade, reading proficiency levels remain low. Given the critical nature of reading to children’s individual achievement and the nation’s future economic success, the Casey Foundation offers recommendations for communities and policymakers to support early reading.

In Almost Every State, the Reading Proficiency Gap Between Fourth-Graders from Lower- and Higher-Income Families Grew

In the past decade, all but six states made progress in improving reading proficiency levels in the early years. Despite gains, more than 50 percent of children in every state are not proficient readers by the time they enter fourth grade. New Mexico and Mississippi have the worst reading outcomes (79 percent not proficient) while Massachusetts has the best (53 percent).

An analysis by family income shows that, in every state, children in low-income households are less likely to be proficient readers compared to their peers in higher-income families. Reading-score gaps between these groups increased by nearly 20 percent during the past decade, with the largest proficiency divides in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

New data for the nation, states and the District of Columbia:

Resources on Early Reading

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, launched in May 2010, is a collaborative effort of funders, nonprofit partners, states and more than 140 communities across the nation to ensure that many more children from low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship. The Campaign offers resources for improving reading proficiency for young children.

In addition, the latest data and reports on reading proficiency are available from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, as well as relevant infographics.

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KIDS COUNT, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, is a national and state-by-state effort to track the status of children and families in the United States. By providing policymakers and citizens with benchmarks for child well-being, KIDS COUNT seeks to enrich local, state and national discussions concerning ways to secure better futures for all children.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private philanthropy that creates a brighter future for the nation's children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow.

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