Reading by 3rd Grade
In the next few weeks, Parents who have students in the Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd or 3rd grades will be receiving a DIBELS reading report showing where their students are reading in relationship to grade levels and other students in the same class. I would like to emphasize how critical it is to have students reading on grade level by the end of 3rdgrade. Research published in Education Week by Robert Balfanz at John Hopkins University found the following statistics based on his research. He found warning signs as early as the 6h grade if a student showed chronic absences, poor behavior, failing math or language arts scores which, when put together, lead to 90% risk that a student will not graduate on time. The American Educational Research Association indicates that warning signs are prevalent in students as early as the 3rd grade. Their research indicates a student who can’t read on grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by the age of 19 than a child who does read proficient by that time. If you add poverty into the equation this same student is 13 time less likely to graduate on time. Students who are not on grade level at the start of their 4th grade class have only a 1 in 10 chance of being on grade level at the start of their 8th grade year. It is important to understand that students learn how to read through 3rd grade. After 3rdgrade, students use their reading skills to learn content so, if a student cannot read the material because of a lack of reading skills, they cannot understand the grade level content they are being taught. So, when you receive the letters from schools describing your student’s reading levels, please take some time to review the information and contact your child’s teacher if you have any questions. Parents play a critical role in helping students to improve their reading at home. I would like to pass along a few helpful suggestions for parents. First, make sure your student is reading books that are on their current reading level. These books should be easy for the student to read and should help build fluency. If a student is missing more than five words per page, the book may be too hard. Parents can ask their student’s teachers for their current reading level but make sure students do not experience frustration when they are reading because the book may be too difficult. Second, students who are in Kindergarten through 3rd grade should read out load to parents or some other adult. Parents should listen to students and ask questions such as main character, places or ideas expressed in the stories. By asking questions during the story or at the end it will help students build their reading comprehensions. Third, visit your local libraries to check out books that are on their grade level to provide additional reading opportunities to the students. Students should read at least 20 minutes every day to help improve their reading fluency. Fourth, as students’ progress in their reading and start into chapter books, it is a good idea to look for audio books that students can listen to so they can understand the characters, settings and plots in the stories. Many times after a student understands the roll of each character, they are more likely to continue reading the book, especially if the books are part of a series. I would ask for everyone in our communities to please help students to be proficient in their reading by the end of 3rd grade. Proficiency in reading by the end of the 3rd grade may be the biggest determining factor in a student’s future.
–Superintendent Ben Dalton