Poor children are less likely than wealthier children to graduate from high school. And poor children who can't read well by third grade are even more likely to drop out, according to a new report published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
According to the report, titled Double Jeopardy: How Third Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School graduation:
For children who were poor for at least a year and were not reading proficiently in third grade, the proportion that don't finish school rose to 26 percent. That's more than six times the rate for all proficient readers.
The rate was highest for poor Black and Hispanic students, at 31 and 33 percent respectivelyor about eight times the rate for all proficient readers.
With the Obama Administration's emphasis on ''college readiness,'' the brief comes at an opportune time to ensure that policy changes within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) are tailored to give children a strong reading foundation by third grade. It's time to prioritize dollars and resources to put the earliest years first by building strong systems of early learning for all children – and especially those in poverty – up through the third grade. PreK-3 rd reform strategies are at the heart of the solution.