Studies have shown that third grade reading success is a good indicator of how a student will perform in the future.  According to a study by sociology professor Donald Hernandez, a student who isn’t reading on grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by that time.

Teacher and her elementary students

The importance of early intervention for our young struggling readers is becoming more and more apparent. Many students perform well enough to advance through the educational system but struggle because reading skills are lacking. As students reach higher grades, more independent study is required. The students who may have performed well in other subjects like science and math, begin to struggle in all subjects because of the heavy reliance on reading instructions, research and notes.

So, how can we help our students before the deficiencies are  too much to overcome?

Several state have instituted third grade reading guarantees that require students to be reading at level by the end of their third grade year. Students who do not score at the required level will be required to repeat third grade, or at least the reading portion of third grade.

Ohio is the most recent state to add the guarantee, starting in the 2013-14 school year. According to NPR’s StateImpact, the level required is slightly below the current passing score on the state’s Ohio Achievement Assessment.

Florida instituted a similar reading guarantee in 2003. In 2002, only 27 percent of Florida fourth graders were rated at proficient in reading, well below the national average. In 2011, 35 percent of Florida fourth graders were rated as proficient readers, above the national average of 32 percent. Data is from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Does your state have a reading guarantee? Do you think a third grade reading guarantee is effective in helping struggling readers?