Volume 2 Issue 3

$2 Million to Help 300 More Third Graders Read Proficiently

The Board of Education for Jeffco Public Schools approved a request for an additional            $2 million to improve primary literacy in 2014–2015. The request was made as part of the budget approval process and the budget was adopted at the regular meeting of the board
on June 19, 2014. 

For nearly a decade in Jeffco, 20 percent of third graders have not scored at the proficient
level in reading each year; that is, about 1200 students per year move on to fourth grade without the skills necessary for reading proficiency. The board recognized this as a major inhibitor to improving student achievement in all areas and asked staff to prepare a proposal that would ensure 85 percent of Jeffco third-grade students read at grade level this year.

The board asked for a proposal that would increase the percentage of third graders reading at proficient and advanced levels from 80 percent to 85 percent. With a litt le over 6000 third graders this increase would mean an additional 300 Jeffco third graders would be reading profi ciently at the end of this school year. The money will also go toward reducing the percentage of students in the unsatisfactory category by one percent. The additional funds will allow the district to pay for professional development and literacy specialists as well as literacy coaches for primary teachers and materials.

Raising third-grade reading proficiency is one of three main goals set unanimously by the Board of Education for this academic year because literacy is essential to the future of students.

The Annie E. Casey foundation has published a Kids Count special report entitled “Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters.” A copy on the website for the
report reads: 

Millions of American children get to fourth grade without learning to read proficiently, and that puts them on the high school dropout track. The ability to read is critical to a child’s success in school, life-long earning potential and their ability to contribute to the nation’s economy and its
security. Children can succeed at reading proficiency if policymakers focus on school readiness, school attendance, summer learning, family support and high-quality teaching.”

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading states, “Reading proficiency by third grade is the most important predictor of highschool graduation and career success.”

Interestingly, in Jeffco, 20 percent of third graders don’t read proficiently and about 20 percent of Jeffco students don’t graduate on time. We don’t yet know if the same students that were behind in third-grade reading are the ones not graduating on time as this has yet to be studied in Jeffco. National research seems to indicate a strong correlation between lack of third-grade reading proficiency and graduation rates.

The 2013-2014 Colorado third grade reading TCAP scores showed third grade reading scores relatively fl at in Jeffco. Although some schools showed great improvements, others showed disappointing declines. (See chart below.)

With an increased focus on the programs that help drive academic achievement and the additional $2 million dollars allocated to improving primary literacy the Jeffco board is investing in helping 300 additional students become prepared for future success.