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We know far too well that all education is not created equal, but the latest results from a KIDS COUNT news report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation show that the learning discrepancy between the wealthy and the poor as well as between races is growing. The gap in reading proficiency between lower and higher income fourth graders has grown by 20 percent in the past decade, with 80% of lower income fourth-graders reading below their grade level, compared to 49% of those from higher income families. The study, which also examined the results of the five largest racial groups, found that 83 percent of black students, 81 percent of Latino students, 78 percent of American Indian students, 55 percent of white students and 49 percent of Asian students are not reading proficiently at grade level. The report, which explains how this lack of literacy proficiency could negatively effect the economy, stresses the importance of a strong foundation (in reading as well as other developmental milestones) during the first eight years of life.

literacy, early literacy, parenting, education
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Some of the other astonishing (and disturbing) findings:

  • 66% of all fourth graders are not proficient in reading.
  • The gap in reading proficiency between lower and higher income fourth graders has grown by 20 percent in the past decade, with virtually every state showing a widening gap of at least 10%.
  • In 12 states and the District of Columbia, the reading gap widened by more than 30 percent, with the largest increases in D.C., Hawaii and Tennessee.
  • Dual language learners had the highest rate of non-proficiency with 93%.
  • The gap in proficiency rates based on family income is highest in DC, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
  • New Mexico and Mississippi have the lowest percentages of proficiency with 79% of students reading below grade level.

Want some inspiration to help reduce these disparities and improve education for all? Check out The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for resources and ideas.

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