Studies and recommendations on reading in the early grades



Explore the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress results for fourth grade reading.

Why is it so important that children learn to read well by the time they leave third grade? What can we do to make sure this happens?

Read a study sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that found troubling statistics on the uphill battle students face if they are not reading proficiently by fourth grade. Then read about factors that can help make sure children have a strong base for learning and SREB recommendations for actions states can take to prepare children for school.

Research shows that high-quality pre-K programs are important for getting children school-ready, especially students at risk of academic difficulties. The Brookings Institution’s Pre-Kindergarten Task Force lays out the state of research on pre-K in a 2017 report.

University of Virginia researchers Daphna Bassok, Scott Latham and Anna Rorem examined changes in kindergarten teachers’ beliefs about kindergarten practice between 1998 and 2010. The changes highlight the increasing importance of kindergarten as an entryway to the early grades.

The Education Commission of the States took a look across the states in 2016 and compared state approaches to kindergarten. Two SREB states — Oklahoma and West Virginia — are recognized for their strong support of kindergarten.

What can we do to help struggling readers?

Two decades ago, the National Reading Panel was tasked with examining the existing research on reading to determine which practices work best. The panel’s report established that there are five essential components of reading: phonics, phonological awareness (sometimes called phonemic awareness), vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. Instruction in all five of these components is critical for children to learn to read well. Students who struggle need intervention that targets one or more of these skills.

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) is a framework used in many schools to support students’ academic, socioemotional, and behavioral needs. Within MTSS, the Response to Intervention (RTI) approach is used to identify the right supports for students. New to the idea of RTI? Read more about it.

The evolving state of research on dyslexia reveals that it is a common cause of reading difficulties, impacting between 10 percent and 20 percent of people. As many as 80 percent of students who struggle with reading are likely to have some form of dyslexia. The International Dyslexia Association provides many resources for those looking to learn more about dyslexia.