The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading focuses on an important predictor of school success and high school graduation – grade-level reading by the end of third grade. When children do not read on grade-level by the end of third grade, they are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2010), and those who do not graduate from high school are 3.5 times more likely to be incarcerated than their peers who do (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2010).

Nationally, almost 2/3 of 4th graders (64%) and 8th graders (66%) scored below proficient in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP, 2015). In Mississippi, 74% of 4th graders and 80% of 8th graders scored below proficient. To make matters worse, 4 out of 5 children from poverty miss the critical milestone of reading on grade-level by the end of third grade. Mississippi can and must do better!

While schools must provide effective teaching for all children in every classroom every day, the MS Campaign for Grade-Level Reading believes schools cannot succeed alone. By partnering with schools and engaging parents and communities to mobilize efforts to reduce barriers in school readiness and school attendance, as well as to increase access to summer learning, children can reach their full potential and be more successful in school and in life.

The Readiness Gap

Too many children from low-income families begin school already behind. In their first four years of life, “an average child in a professional family would accumulate experience with almost 45 million words; an average child in a working-class family 26 million words, and an average child in a welfare family 13 million words” (Hart & Risley, 2003).

In Mississippi, 2 of out every 3 students enter Kindergarten lacking prerequisite skills, such as beginning to understand printed text has meaning, recognizing some letters, numbers, colors, and shapes.

The Attendance Gap

Too many children from low-income families miss too many days of school. Almost 74,000 children (K-12) in Mississippi are chronically absent from school, meaning they miss more than 10% of the school year (18 days). This is valuable instructional time of foundational skills that children miss.

The Summer Slide

Too many children from low-income families have limited access to high-quality learning opportunities in the summer. Without access to enriching activities available to their more affluent peers, research shows these children lose as much as three months of comprehension skills over the summer. By fifth grade, these children are nearly three grade levels behind their peers.