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January 8, 2018

Three important reasons why we can't ignore early literacy

The early childhood literacy crisis in the United States has broad and lasting implications. Elementary school students who struggle to read now may face many future obstacles, both in and out of the classroom.

Research shows that students who lack proficient reading skills by fourth grade are at a higher risk of struggling academically and even dropping out of school. Low literacy rates are also linked to other lasting consequences affecting our communities, such as poverty and crime.

These are just a few of the reasons why we need to act now and create a future built on literacy.

1.  The need is great and urgent.

Many students in the US lack strong reading abilities, and the achievement gap increases further if a child lives in a low-income community.

  • Nearly 10 million low-income fourth-graders currently read below grade level in the US
  • Only one in five low-income students reads proficiently by fourth grade
  • Students who struggle to read proficiently are also more likely to struggle in other subject areas like science and math, and they fall farther behind their peers at an increasing rate

2. Students who struggle to read are likely to face future challenges.

Reading is the foundation for all future learning, so young students who are unable to read proficiently may find themselves lacking other critical skills in their later years.

  • Children who do not read proficiently by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school
  • According to a World Literacy Foundation Report from 2012, poor educational outcomes are linked to other negative consequences, such as poverty, unemployment, illness, and crime,
  • Seventy-five percent of crimes in the US are committed by high school dropouts

3. Early literacy has significant implications for all of society.  

This isn’t just an issue for the individual kids who lack the support they need to develop strong reading skills—this is an issue for all of us. The early literacy crisis negatively impacts many other aspects of society.

  • Every student that leaves school without graduating costs society $260k in lost earning, taxes, and productivity
  • Economists predict a lack of 5 million college-educated workers by 2020 if current trends persist
  • The U.S. could save an estimated $18.5 billion in annual crime costs, and the incidence of crime would significantly decrease, if the male graduation rate increased by just 5 percentage points
  • If the number of high school dropouts was cut in half, the US would save an annual $7.3 billion in Medicaid spending

Reading partner with student

Join us and be a part of the solution. With the support of people like you, we can:  

  • Provide a program model that has been shown to improve reading proficiency and is a cost-effective option for under-resourced schools
  • Leverage the strength of local volunteers to empower students and their communities
  • Get results. In the 2016-17 school year:
    • 83% of all Reading Partners students met or exceeded their end-of-year literacy growth goal
    • 90% of K-2 Reading Partners students mastered key foundational reading skills needed to read at grade level
    • 90% of principals reported school-wide reading improvement
    • 98% of teachers said Reading Partners was valuable to their school

Help Reading Partners create a future built on literacy. Volunteer or donate today, and you can give a child the skills to succeed in school and in life.

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