- Educators in San Mateo County, CA, began “The Big Lift” initiative in 2015 to focus on improving reading skills of students in preschool through 3rd grade by 2020, EdSource reports.
- Research shows that students who do not read well by the end of third grade are more likely to fall behind academically, and to later drop out, because they need to read to learn by that time.
- Recent studies of The Big Lift program indicate that children who participate in preschool are more kindergarten-ready, and that The Big Lift's "Inspiring Summers" resulted in improved reading skills, reduced summer learning loss, increased parental participation, and improved student attitudes.
By the time a student reaches 4th grade, much of learning takes place through the written word. That is why researchers now consider 3rd-grade to be a pivotal year for reading mastery, and why the Campaign for Grade-Level reading is spreading across the country.
California is not the only state to address this issue. North Carolina established the Read to Achieve program in 2012, requiring interventions at summer reading camps for students who underperform on reading tests at the end of 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades and mandating a series of interventions for those who aren't reading on grade level by 4th grade.
“New research has shown that this achievement gap could begin at as early as 18 months, and by the age of two, children from low-income families show a six-month gap in language proficiency. By the age of three, the difference in vocabulary can be so large that children would have to attend additional schooling to catch up. Furthermore, poor children have more difficulty understanding abstract language and possess lower reading and writing skills, which increases the odds that the child will drop out of school in the future. They often struggle with phonological awareness skills: the ability to consciously manipulate a language’s sound system,” said Jane Harkness of The Borgen Project.