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Reading G A P for California 4th-Graders

PHOTO: A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Children Now finds the majority of California's fourth-graders are not reading at grade level. The report finds 73 percent of all fourth graders in California were reading below proficient levels in 2013, with only three other states (Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico) and the District of Columbia faring worse. CREDIT: publicdomainpictures.net
PHOTO: A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Children Now finds the majority of California's fourth-graders are not reading at grade level. The report finds 73 percent of all fourth graders in California were reading below proficient levels in 2013, with only three other states (Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico) and the District of Columbia faring worse. CREDIT: publicdomainpictures.net
January 28, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The majority of California's fourth-graders aren't making the grade when it comes to reading. A new report finds only one in four California fourth-graders is reading at grade level.

According to Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, reading scores are a key predictor of long-term academic and economic success.

"We're seeing some of the consequences of that in today's economy," he said. "You know, (there are) a number of Californians who personally don't have the skills to get some available jobs that are out there, and that trend is only going to continue as jobs require more and more skills."

Governor Jerry Brown's proposed state budget includes the implementation of a new school-funding formula, as well as an increase in per-pupil spending for K-12 students. Lempert said however that California still places well below the national average for education spending.

He said the proposed budget also fails to include adequate funding for early learning and development programs, which are known to play a critical role in preparing all children for success in school.

"So while some very positive things have occurred, we really need to double down, not only ensuring that we do even more in terms of our education spending, but really start early," the Children Now president declared.

The 2014 California Children's Report Card released earlier this month by Children Now showed only half of the state's three- and four-year-olds are enrolled in preschool, with significant disparities by race and income.

Read the report at ChildrenNow.org.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA