Menu Close

Recent early education news and updates

In the News

Early intervention helps boost reading skills for young children most at risk of falling behind

December 20, 2017
Ashley Hopkinson
Ed Source

By implementing summer programs for students in early grades and high-quality preschool that focuses on preparing students for kindergarten, one California county is improving the reading skills of its young children.

While San Mateo County has a significant number of residents with advanced degrees, 44 percent of 3rd-graders in the county were not reading at grade level, based on standardized test scores in 2012-13, said Diana Harlick of the San Mateo County Office of Education. The startling statistics spurred community organizations and the county office of education to launch The Big Lift, a preschool-to-3rd- grade initiative with a mission to improve the reading skills of children in San Mateo County by 2020. The program was implemented in 2015.

“The causes of the achievement gap are multifaceted and so the solution must be as well,” Harlick said. The Big Lift focuses on various factors that can contribute to gaps in student performance and addresses themin intentional ways, such as parent workshops and increasing the number of slots in a preschool program, she said. Some Big Lift preschools have also expanded from part-day programs to full-day programs that serve children from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

According to research highlighted by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, children who do not read proficiently by 3rd grade are more likely to fall behind academically and drop out of high school compared to their peers who are reading at grade level.

Research also shows that proficiency in reading by the end of 3rd grade helps students to “shift from learning to read to reading to learn,” meaning they understand more complex subject matter as they start 4th-grade work, according to the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, a national effort focused on the importance of 3rd-grade reading.