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Majority of Colorado fourth-graders don’t read at grade level

By Stephanie Carroll Carson
Special to The SUN

More than half of the children in Colorado aren’t reading at grade level by the time they’re starting fourth grade, which a new report calls a key indicator that they will struggle later in school and in life.

According to the new Annie E. Casey Foundation report, 59 percent of Colorado fourth-graders aren’t proficient in reading. That’s a little better than the national average of 66 percent, but Sarah Hughes, research director for the Colorado Children’s Campaign, said it pinpoints serious problems that reach beyond the classroom.

“The statewide average really doesn’t tell the whole story,” she said. “When it come to things like education and health, we often see really large differences in how kids are doing based on their family’s income, or based on their race and ethnicity.”
The Casey Foundation also found a large disparity between kids of different racial backgrounds — with 83 percent of black children not reading at grade level, compared with 55 percent of their white counterparts.

In addition to race, family income level also makes a difference. Researchers found that 79 percent of low-income children in Colorado lacked reading proficiency by fourth grade, compared with 45 percent of higher-income children.

The report recommended more funding for early childhood education, and also support for low-income families, such as preventive health care so that kids stay healthy and keep their attendance up at school.
The Casey Foundation report, “Early Reading Proficiency in the United States,” is online at aecf.org.

This story was posted on February 6, 2014.