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Five Facts about California's Reading Crisis

California's reading crisis isn't complicated - the numbers are there for all to see. Here are Five Facts that put the crisis in context:

  1. Over half (58% - up from 51%!) of California students read below grade level in 3rd grade.  Most never catch up. (1)

  2. For low-income Latino 3rd graders, 74% are below grade level. For low-income African American students, 78%. These groups make up half of all California students - more than 3 million children.(1)

  3. Only 1 California school district (out of 285 ranked) has over 50% of low-income Latinx students at grade level. No districts have over 50% for low-income African American students.(2)

  4. On national tests, California ranks 40th among the states in 4th grade reading level.  For low-income students, California is tied for 38th.(3)

  5. On these tests, half of California low-income 4th graders score "Below Basic," the lowest level of achievement.  Only 20% are "Proficient" or "Advanced."  Even for higher-income students, 48% of 4th graders are below "Proficient."(3)

Not sure how much early reading matters?  Check out the Annie E. Casey Foundation's, "Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters" (2010) for a thorough discussion of the impact of reading skills on school and life prospects.

1 - CAASPP 2022

2 - CA Reading Report Card

3 - NAEP 2019

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