Third-grade reading proficiency is key to reversing the “skills gap”


How important is reading to the skills gap? It's crucial.

Through third grade, children are learning to read. After that, they read to learn. That is why reading proficiently by the end of third grade is one of the most reliable predictors of future success for children. Students who develop strong reading skills by third grade are much more likely to graduate from high school and seek postsecondary education and training.

The problem is that, if students are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade, they very rarely “catch up.” These students are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma. In fact, Economists explain that the problem is growing; a nationwide shortfall of five million workers to fill jobs requiring postsecondary education and training by 2020.

Third-grade reading proficiency is key to reversing the skills gap, creating sustainable economic growth, and ensuring that students graduate from high school ready to succeed in the global economy.

A new report from the U.S. Business Roundtable, “Why Reading Matters and What to Do about It,” gives more details. The report is the culmination of work by a task force of CEOs who are passionate about this topic and the future of the workforce. It was led by our very own, Dr. Goodnight, CEO of SAS.

This report explains that the demand for more highly-educated workers was actually accelerated by the recession and recovery.

  • Of the 11.6 million jobs added over the last six years, 99 percent went to workers who had some education or training beyond high school.
  • The remaining 1 percent – only 80,000 jobs nationally – were for those with a high school diploma or less.

The U.S. Business Roundtable is proposing a six-step policy agenda to develop student reading proficiency necessary in today’s economy. The focus of that agenda is to ensure children have strong early literacy skills as they enter kindergarten, and then systematically build on that foundation to help all students achieve reading proficiency by the end of third grade.

Reversing these trends is possible by improving third-grade reading proficiency.

To learn more, read Data Management and Analytics: Keys to Maximizing Student Literacy.


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Georgia Mariani

Principal Product Marketing Manager

Georgia Mariani is the Principal Product Marketing Manager for the Education Industry.

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