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W.Va. students not meeting reading requirements

Oct. 02, 2013 @ 06:42 AM

CHARLESTON — More than seven in 10 children can’t read proficiently by the end of third grade, and West Virginia KIDS COUNT said Tuesday the odds are slim they’ll ever catch up.

A new infographic shows 73 percent of children are failing to meet the standards. That’s 5 percentage points worse than the national average.

KIDS COUNT Executive Director Margie Hale says three-fourths of those chil­dren will remain poor readers throughout high school, and one in six won’t graduate.

West Virginia is failing its youngest children and must do better, she said.

“We should be focusing on the early years, from birth through age three, when the building blocks of literacy are being laid and where we can get the highest possible return on our investment,” Hale said.

Third-grade reading scores are considered important because at that age, children are still learning to read. By fourth grade, Hale said, they are “reading to learn,” and fourth-graders who can’t read well by then are unlikely to ever catch up.

Children who can’t read at grade level typically have one or more risk factors, includ­ing poor nutrition, low family income, a mother who doesn’t have a high school degree and lack of good pre-school pro­g ra m s .

The infographic is based on the results of the 2011-12 WESTest, which measures reading and language arts prof ic ienc y.

It shows Cabell County has 45 percent of its students read­ing at grade. Cabell County ranks 20th in terms of overall prof ic ienc y.

In Wayne County, about 40 percent of students are deemed proficient. In Logan,


Nearly 49 percent are reading at grade. In Mason County, only about 42.5 percent of students were deemed proficient, and in Lincoln only about 36 percent.

The counties with the highest proficiency levels were Clay and Putnam, where more than 60 percent of the children were reading at grade.

Only six counties had rates of 50 percent or higher, while in 18 counties, fewer than 40 percent of fourth-graders were prof icient.

The worst-performing counties were Monroe, Hardy and Grant, where fewer than three in 10 students could read at grade level.


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