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Proficiency in reading by the end of third grade is a crucial marker in a child's educational development. In the early years, learning to read is a critical component of education. But beginning in fourth grade, children use reading to learn other subjects, and therefore, mastery of reading becomes a critical component in their ability to keep up academically. Children who reach fourth grade without being able to read proficiently are more likely to drop out of high school, reducing their earnings potential and changes for success.
This indicator is part of the KIDS COUNT Child Well-Being Index. Read our KIDS COUNT Data Book to learn more about how children are faring.
Early Warning Confirmed: A Research Update on Third-Grade Reading2010 KIDS COUNT Special Report: Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters
Fourth grade public school students’ reading achievement levels, as measured and defined by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test.
For a more detailed description of achievement levels see: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/Reading/achieveall.asp. Public schools include charter schools and exclude Bureau of Indian Education schools and Department of Defense Education Activity schools.
Data Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Available online at http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/.
Updated November 2015.
S – NAEP reporting standards not met.
N.A. – Data not available.
A 90 percent confidence interval file may be found at