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ERIC Number: EJ1216761
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2019-May
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1540-8000
Reading by Third Grade: How Policymakers Can Foster Early Literacy
Duke, Nell K.
State Education Standard, v19 n2 p6-11 May 2019
Reading by third grade is a hot topic. Dozens of state legislatures have passed laws aimed at improving early reading, many of them mandating retention if the job is not done by the end of grade 3. Everyone from philanthropists to publishers, from parents to the press, have fixed on it. And setting aside too many people's assumptions to the contrary, educators, teacher educators, and researchers across the nation work hard every day to figure out how to build reading proficiency in individual children and groups of children. At the same time, there is nothing magical about reading by third grade in particular. Reading achievement at the end of second grade is also predictive of later success, as are some measures of language and emerging literacy in preschool and kindergarten. Similarly, instruction by grade 3 cannot entirely inoculate learners from later reading difficulties. Reading Shakespeare or a chemistry textbook pose their own challenges and illustrate why students need ongoing support to develop as readers. Some argue for third grade as a linchpin because of the prevalent notion that children first learn to read and then, in fourth grade, read to learn. Although catchy, it is not actually true. Even very young children can learn from reading, first from books read to them and--well before third grade--from books they read themselves. Most state learning standards expect reading to learn of some kind or another in kindergarten and first grade. Likewise, learning to read does not end at fourth grade. Similarly, the fact that third grade is typically the first year in which states administer standardized tests of reading achievement is not reason enough to treat reading achievement at the end of this year as profoundly more important than at other grade levels before and after.
National Association of State Boards of Education. 2121 Crystal Drive Suite 350, Arlington, VA 22202. Tel: 800-368-5023; Tel: 703-684-4000; Fax: 703-836-2313; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Elementary Education; Primary Education; Grade 3; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A