Third Grade Reading Proficiency Falls Slightly; Reading Gaps Grow Between White Students and Students of Color

Third grade reading proficiency for OUSD third graders has fallen slightly in the past year (39% to 38%), with large gaps persisting between White students and students of color, according to a recent report by the citywide grade level reading initiative Oakland Reads 2020 (OR2020).
Third Grade Proficiency
Latest OR2020 Update Looks at Third Reading and Supporting Success Areas: School Readiness, Attendance and Summer Learning 

The 2013-14 Grade Level Reading Update, written by Urban Strategies Council and OR2020 staff, examines progress in the past year (2013-14) toward doubling the percentage of third graders reading at grade level from 42% (2012) to 85% by 2020. The report also examines outcomes for three other areas that support reading by third grade: school readiness upon entering kindergarten; school attendance in the early years of school; and participation in quality summer learning. The report found that:

  1. Third Grade Reading did not improve for most groups:  Overall third grade reading proficiency for OUSD students has fallen slightly in the past year, with fewer students of color reading at grade level, and only White and Pacific Islander third graders showing gains in proficiency levels between 2012-13 and 2013-14.
  2. School Readiness outcomes are low: Approximately 40% of incoming kindergartners have the academic, social-emotional and physical skills necessary to enter school ready to learn, and only 51% display first sound fluency, a foundational skill for reading.  Sharp disparities persist between White students and students of color.

Kindergarteners First Sound Fluency

3.   School attendance shows strong signs of improvement:  Satisfactory attendance (attending 95% or more of school days) has increased to 80% for K-3 students, and chronic absence (missing 10% or more of school days) has decreased to 11%. However, kindergartners still display the highest rate of chronic absence (15%) among the early grades.  This is a crucial time for budding readers as children who attend school regularly in kindergarten and first grade are nearly four times more likely to read at grade level in third grade than their peers who are chronically absent.

Chronic Absence and Attendance

4. Intensive summer learning does not occur for many of the students who need it most: One of the few city-wide measures of engagement in quality summer learning is enrollment in OUSD summer school, which serves primarily those students most at risk of losing ground over the summer: low income students and students performing below grade level in reading or math. Summer school enrollment among K-3 students has remained steady in the past two years, but many of the students at highest risk for summer slide are not enrolled.  Only 12% of third graders from low income families and only 14% of third graders reading below grade level participated in summer school.

Read the full Grade Level Reading Update for more details.