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Two-Thirds of Maine’s 4th-graders Probably Have Trouble Reading This

PHOTO: According to a new report, two-thirds of Maine’s fourth-graders are not reading proficiently, and more than three-quarters of their low-income classmates are also struggling with the printed word. Photo credit: Tim Pierce, Wikimedia Commons.
PHOTO: According to a new report, two-thirds of Maine’s fourth-graders are not reading proficiently, and more than three-quarters of their low-income classmates are also struggling with the printed word. Photo credit: Tim Pierce, Wikimedia Commons.
January 28, 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine - Two-thirds of Maine's fourth-graders are not reading proficiently, according to a new report, and more than three-quarters of their low-income classmates also are struggling with the printed word. The report, a Kids Count "date snapshot" from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, shows little improvement from 2003 to 2013 by little Mainers on a nationally administered test. While Maine's fourth-graders score above the national average, the state's scores are dismaying to Claire Berkowitz of the Maine Children's Alliance.

"Only 37 percent of our fourth-graders are reading proficiently," she said. "That's not nearly enough, regardless of race, socio-economic status or where they live."

In both 2003 and 2013, 76 percent of Maine's low-income fourth-graders read below proficiency levels. But the reading achievement gap between low-income and middle- to high-income pupils increased from 18 percent to 24 percent.

Berkowitz said that only a third of Maine's children have access to public pre-kindergarten classes, which she said could only help improve reading by starting it sooner. She expects to hear pre-K funding stressed in President Obama's State of the Union address tonight.

"We're looking forward to hearing him talk about early childhood, because that is where you get the most bang for your buck," she declared. "If you invest a dollar in those years, you'll see a seven-dollar return, basically, in a lot of the economic indicators that have been done around that."

On a countrywide basis, Elizabeth Burke Bryant of the Casey Foundation's Campaign for Grade-Level Reading noted some progress.

"We are showing some success with fourth-grade reading proficiency improving, and now we have to finish the job and make sure that all children are reading proficiently by the end of third grade."



Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - ME