Boston’s Struggle With 3rd Grade Reading

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Achieving reading proficiency by 3rd Grade is a vital skill, closely correlated with important measures of academic achievement later. As one major study found:

– One in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do notgraduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers…

– For children who were poor for at least a year and were not reading proficiently in third grade, the proportion that don’t finish school rose to 26 percent. That’s more than six times the rate for all proficient readers…

– Graduation rates for Black and Hispanic students who were not proficient readers in third grade lagged far behind those for White students with the same reading skills.

With this in mind, it’s important that BPS has set goals of getting 59% of students to proficient and advanced in the 3rd grade English Language Arts MCAS, as well as having all schools with at least 72% of their third graders proficient in reading.

Goals are important, but current performance is way behind what we want. Buried deep in a Globe article, that focused on the assets of various schools, was a troubling revelation:

Only Perkins and three other schools met or exceeded Johnson’s goal of having 72 percent of [3rd grade] students score proficient in reading on the MCAS.

A closer look at the available data yields more troubling information —

– 56 of the 80 schools (that had 2011 Grade 3 ELA data available) had fewer than 50% of students scoring proficient in reading.

– 24 of the 80 schools had fewer than 25%.

– Across the entire system, 63% of students in Grade 3 scored at a Needs Improvement or Warning/Failing (i.e. not proficient) level.

Given the implications of a lack of proficiency in 3rd grade reading, those are sobering statistics. Setting goals is good step, let’s hope BPS can raise proficiency levels and fast.

Crossposted at Boston Daily.