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New Report Shows Children with Poor Reading Skills in Third Grade More Likely to Not Graduate from High School

Posted on April 12, 2011

A recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that children who are not reading proficiently in third grade are four times more likely to not graduate from high school on time. The report was released just days after U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan criticized recent cuts to early education programs, saying “if we want to close achievement gaps — if we’re serious about giving every single child a chance to be successful — we have to enter kindergarten ready to learn and ready to read.”

The report analyzed statistics from a longitudinal national study of nearly 4000 students born between 1979 and 1989. The study also found that 22 percent of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6 percent of those who have never been poor and that poor Black and Hispanic students had the highest rate of failure to finish high school by age 19. The report note the importance of third grade as “the time when students shift from learning to read and begin reading to learn”, meaning that interventions after third grade are less effective than earlier ones.

Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study issues related to literacy and early education:

  • Schubert Center Associate Director Dr. Elizabeth Short studies cognitive development in school-aged children as well as cognitive and academic consequences of attention deficit disorder, language disabilities, and reading disabilities. A policy brief on her work on assessing developmental differences through play can be downloaded here.
  • Dr. Lee Thompson of Psychological Sciences studies the development of language in childhood and early environmental influences on reading skills in twins. A policy brief on her research on children’s development of mathematical skills can be downloaded here.
  • Dr. Barbara A. Lewis of Psychological Sciences studies the role of genetics in speech, language and literacy. A policy brief on her work in this area can be downloaded here.

Additionally, the Schubert Center was privileged to host Nobel Prize Winner Dr. James Heckman of the University of Chicago in March 2010 for a lecture on the economic case for investing in early childhood education. A video of Dr. Heckman’s lecture as well as other resources related to his talk can be found from our website.

Read the Casey Foundation’s report.

Page last modified: March 21, 2014