Source: CVDaily Feed

SALT LAKE CITY – Despite some improvement in the past decade, nearly two-thirds of Utah’s fourth-grade students are not reading at a proficient level, according to a new Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Terry Haven, deputy director of Voices for Utah Children, said the report also showed that 76 percent of students in low-income Utah families are behind in reading. She said research proves that kids who are not reading by the fourth grade will struggle in school and in life.

“We learn to read through third grade and then we read to learn,” she said. “If you haven’t learned to read, you’re not going to learn. Without this foundation, it becomes increasingly difficult for children to master increasingly complex materials. So it just gets worse from there.”

According to the report, 66 percent of students nationally are not reading proficiently by the fourth grade. The numbers are even higher among low-income and minority students at the state and national level.

Haven said parents in low-income families likely are working multiple jobs and don’t have the time to read to their children. She said Utah legislators, now in session, should increase funding for preschool programs that are proven to help children read by the fourth grade.

“We know that children who are scoring below their peers when they get to preschool, by the time they leave preschool and through fifth grade, our research shows, are testing at their peers, with their peers,” she said. “So preschool is by far one of the best things we could do.”

Haven said ensuring that all children can read and learn is vital for America to have an educated workforce equipped to compete in a global economy. She said students who are educated likely will pay more taxes as adults and not be dependent on government programs for help.

The Casey Foundation report, “Early Reading Proficiency in the United States,” is online at