News / Utah / Local

3rd grade increasingly important to students' success

By Mary Richards | Posted - Feb 4th, 2013 @ 5:30pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah educators and officials are focusing much more on the third grade. It's seen as a crucial year for literacy and development.

One study found that 88 percent of the students who failed to graduate high school, tested below proficient in reading in the third grade. More studies show kids who are behind after third grade are more likely to drop out of high school.

Third grade is the year in which they start reading to learn instead of learning to read.

"Starting at the end of third grade moving into fourth grade, we begin to do a lot of reading for information. We begin to expect students to be more independent readers and thinkers," said Tiffany Hall, Utah's K-12 literacy coordinator.

She said hope is not lost for students who struggle in third grade.

"We're seeing some very strong data in Utah that kids who are coming in below grade level in kindergarten, first or second grade, are in fact catching up by eighth grade," she said.

"Even if we can't have them 100 percent on grade level at third grade, we are making progress and being very, very aware of all of our learners in Utah, to make sure they are meeting the standards as quickly as they can," she added.

Gov. Gary Herbert is making early intervention a budget priority. His budget recommendations include $10 million for the continuation and improvement of early intervention programs.

The group Prosperity 2020 has a goal of 90 percent of third-grade students scoring proficiently in math and language arts. Prosperity 2020 is a partnership between Utah education officials and private businesses to increase educational outputs in the state.

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