From Tribune staff reports
MONTGOMERY — With the full implementation of the Literacy Act looming at the end of the 2023-24 school year which requires third graders not reading on grade level be retained, schools across Alabama are already focusing extra attention on students who struggle with reading proficiency in K-3.
While reading proficiency improved slightly over the previous year’s 23%, data from the Alabama State Department of Education compiled by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama show that 22% of third graders are not reading at grade level. Those students are now receiving intensive support to help bring them up to speed.
According to the report from PARCA, “Learning to read by the end of third grade is considered fundamental to school success. Children not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely than proficient readers to leave high school without a diploma.
After third grade, teachers expect students to read in order to learn. In later grades, students without adequate reading skills struggle and have limited opportunities to make up the deficit. With early identification of reading challenges and research-based interventions, virtually all children can be taught to read.”
Tribune Area Schools
An examination of 3rd graders in the Tribune coverage area show that low reading scores are more prevalent in schools with higher poverty rates. The same trend occurs throughout Alabama.
Lack of reading proficiency in Tribune area schools range from a high of 44% at Chalkville Elementary in unincorporated Jefferson County to a low of 1% at Cahaba Elementary in Trussville which is tops in metro Birmingham.
Below are a list of Tribune area elementary schools and the percentage of 3rd graders not reading on grade level:
- Cahaba Elementary 1%
- Paine Elementary 5%
- Magnolia Elementary 6%
- Springville Elementary 9%
- Moody Elementary 15%
- Margaret Elementary 19%
- Leeds Elementary 21%
- Grantswood Community 23%
- Kermit Johnson 23%
- Bryant Park Elementary 27%
- Clay Elementary 27%
- Irondale Community 37%
- Erwin Intermediate 43%
- Chalkville Elementary 44%
The report from PARCA stated that “the Alabama Literacy Act, passed in 2019, has sharpened the focus on early grades reading and directed coaching support and additional resources to support reading instruction based on the science of reading. The law now requires all schools to assess all students in reading from kindergarten through third grade.
“If a K-3 student is identified with a reading deficiency, the law requires the child’s parent or guardian to be notified of the deficiency within 15 days. The school is required to develop and implement an intervention plan for the student within 30 days. Identified students are to receive intensive support from specialists trained in the science of reading during school, before or after school, and over the summer until that student’s deficits are addressed.”