Are Tennessee’s Children Learning to Read?

Tennessee 3rd grade reading proficiency chartsReading is the most essential skill that children learn in school. It is taught over a 4-5 year period that begins in preschool or kindergartenand extends to 3rd grade. Beyond 3rd grade, schooling turns from learning to read, to reading to learn.

Promoting children to the 4th and subsequent grades without sound reading skills not only reduces their chances of success, it misleads their parents about the child’s progress, it unloads poorly equipped and discouraged learners on middle and high school teachers, and it violates the spirit if not the letter of Tennessee’s 2011 law against socially promoting unqualified students.

Social promotion of students who lack mastery of reading ignores their needs, drags down the progress of all students, and makes schooling vastly more inefficient and expensive.  Children who cannot read simply cannot fully benefit from their educational opportunities.  They need more help, more contact hours of teaching, and more specialized treatment – all of which takes more teachers, more specialists, and more time in school.

Testing results of the past 20 years show that less than half of Tennessee’s school children are mastering reading by the end of the 3rd grade.

The following district-level charts feature 2013 data:

Click on the links below to see whether children in your local schools are reading or just being promoted (2013 data):

You can also compare schools statewide by visiting our interactive charts of “3rd grade proficiency versus poverty” in reading and math.