New data: 4th graders not "proficient" readers

A national report shows not enough 4th graders are reading at the level they should be. The data comes from a national assessment of educational progress.

That age is critical for students because the ability to read predicts who is more likely to become a successful adult. Students who struggle with reading in 4th grade, are four times more likley to drop out of high school.

Indiana has seen improvement in the number of readers who are considered "proficient," about a 7% jump in the last decade. The Indiana Youth Institute would like to see those numbers even higher.

"About 67% of children in 4th grade are reading at grade level in the state of Indiana," said Glenn Augustine, VP-Advancement at the Indiana Youth Institute. "The disturbing news in there, is we see wide disparities among low income children and upper income children."

Experts from the Indiana Youth Institute say the state is working to close the gap with programs like the IREAD assessment, giving teachers the ability to hold students back from moving to the next grade, and by incorporating reading time in the classroom.

Children learn to read until they are in 3rd grade," said Augustine. "They read to learn after 3rd grade, that's a really interesting distinction."

There are things parents can be doing to help children learn to read.

"We say it starts at home," said Augustine. "When a child is born, the day you bring that child home form the hospital, start reading to them 15 minutes a day and start building that vocabulary."

Augstine encourages parents to ask questions about the books and compare the information to other books. This, he says, helps develop critical thinking and comprehension.

Both Michigan and Indiana ranked among the lowest reading levels in the country. Click here to read the full data.

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