Why Reading on Grade Level is Critical
Do you know if your child is reading at grade level? A study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation entitled “Early Warning! Why Reading by the end of Third Grade Matters” found that a child who can’t read on grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate from high school by age 19 than a child who is reading on grade level.
Donald J. Hernandez, author of the study explains, “We teach reading for the first three grades and then after that children are not so much learning to read but using their reading skills to learn other topics. In that sense, if you haven’t succeeded by third grade, it’s more difficult to catch up than it would have been if you started before then.” So in other words, first you learn to read, and then you need to read to learn.
According to the report, several factors contribute to low reading proficiency. Children must be ready to succeed when they get to school (cognitively, socially, emotionally and physically) before they can learn there. They need to be present at school because they can’t learn if they aren’t there. They need to have high quality learning opportunities, beginning at birth and continuing in school and during out-of-school time, including summers, in order to sustain learning gains and not lose ground.
If you’re not sure if your child is reading at grade level, make an appointment to visit your child’s teacher. There is a lot that can be done to catch up and parents can play a critical role. Read with your child every day. This can mean having your child read to you AND you reading aloud to your child (at any age). Show interest in what they’re reading by asking questions along the way. “What’s happened so far?” “Who’s your favorite character?” “How did the book end?” To improve their ability to read smoothly and easily, read books more than once until words become familiar. And find books that relate to their favorite topics like animals, sports, hobbies and places.
Expect More Tehama is excited to be a part of a new initiative called Tehama Reads which will work to encourage everyone to do what they can to help all of our students become proficient readers. Look for more on Tehama Reads in the New Year.
(Kathy Garcia is the Business Services and Marketing Manager at the Job Training Center and a member of the Expect More Tehama Leadership Team)