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Monday, September 01, 2014
Southwest Louisiana ,
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State lags in reading proficiency

Last Modified: Friday, January 31, 2014 12:49 PM

More than three of every four children in Louisiana are not reading proficiently by the time they reach the fourth grade, according to a national study.

A Kids Count report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that 77 percent of all Louisiana children don’t meet the fourth-grade reading benchmark. That’s 11 percent higher than the national average, according to the report. Only Mississippi and New Mexico have a higher rate of nonproficient fourth-grade readers.

The foundation’s research indicates that reading proficiency by the end of the third grade is an integral component in increasing the number of children who succeed and do well in life.

“Children who read proficiently by the end of third grade are more likely to graduate from high school, are less likely to fall into poverty and are more likely to find a job that can adequately support their families,” the foundation says.

No surprise there. Reading is the most basic building block for all education. Students who struggle with reading might as well have a ball and chain locked around their ankles. Their chance of success is limited, not only in the classroom but in their employment options in the decades to come.

The report also noted that the gap between reading proficiency rates for children from low-income families and those from higher-income families actually grew by 13 percent between 2003 and 2013 in Louisiana.

“As a state, Louisiana simply cannot afford to ignore the growing gap in reading proficiency rates between low-income and higher-income children. It’s critical that Louisiana makes the investments in our early education system, schools and communities that are needed in order to make sure that every child is able to become proficient in reading by fourth grade,” said Anthony Recasner, CEO of Agenda for Children.

Let’s be blunt. A parent or guardian who does not emphasize reading skills to their child is practicing a form of neglect and child abuse. And a public school or school system that does not provide additional resources for those students who are lagging behind in reading proficiency is adhering to a form of educational malpractice.

The Casey Foundation recommends “the use of results-driven solutions to transform low-performing schools into high-quality learning environments; that communities are supported to ensure children come to school ready, attend school every day and maintain and expand their learning during the summer months; and develop a system of early care and education that coordinates what children experience from birth through age eight.”

We might add that parents and guardians would also serve their children well by supplanting time spent in front of the TV with reading.

More than the Common Core standards or any new educational theory, increasing Louisiana students’ reading proficiency should be job one for parents and our educational community in Louisiana.

Posted By: Paul Ringo On: 2/17/2014

Title: Reading, writing and 'rithmetic

In my opinion, this is one of the best markers for the total failure of our educational systems as they are now. The generations from the 50's, 60's and 70's had a system that worked to educate and discipline students. Now, the system seems to work to suit the system rather than the students or the public in general. This is proof that we need to go back to basics rather than moving on without even teaching children how to read and write. Even for people that were not interested in higher education, there were distributive and alternative skills that were taught (woodworking, plumbing, mechanics, skilled homemaking) that served previous generations well. Someone needs to hold the feet of the system to the fire and set standards for all.

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