schoolBeing at grade level is meaningful at any age, but third grade is the crucial year when students make the leap from learning to read to reading to learn. It’s an academic hurdle that, if missed, can leave kids in the proverbial dust, struggling through letter sounds as their more fluent peers gain new knowledge at what seems like lightning speed.

The National Research Council links the problem to future failures: any child who’s not reading fairly well by the end of third grade is unlikely to graduate high school. Policy makers note big ramifications beyond the classroom, too, since poor readers tend to have more behavioral and social problems. So troubling is the third grade reading gap that public school districts in Florida, Chicago, New York City, and elsewhere have sought to fix it with policies that require any child whose reading isn’t on track to repeat third grade.

Take a look at the following pages and begin your plan.

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