Gaps Still Evident in Third Grade Reading Proficiency

A growing body of research indicates that achieving proficiency in reading by the end of third grade is one of the best predictors of later academic success.


The new report released today by DC Action for Children illustrates that third grade reading proficiency in DC has not improved since 2007. In fact, the analysis demonstrates that for some student subgroups, there was a slight decline in reading scores between 2007 and 2014. The report also reveals that less than 43 percent of DCPS, and 45 percent of charter school, third graders received a score of proficient or above in reading on the 2014 DC Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS).


The ability to read proficiently by third grade is one of the best predictors of a student’s later academic success. Students who are not proficient readers by the end of 3rd grade often struggle to catch up and are four times more likely to drop out of school than those who are proficient.


The new data brief draws on DC CAS results between 2007 and 2014 to provide a comprehensive look at how third grade student performance has changed under the Public Education Reform Amendment Act (PERAA). As third grade reading proficiency is, in particular, closely associated with improved outcomes, this update focuses on trends in reading performance, looking particularly at how race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status and school sector are associated with student success.

Download the full report here.