Nearly 70 percent of AR 4th graders are not reading at proficien - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Nearly 70 percent of AR 4th graders are not reading at proficient level

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LITTLE ROCK (KATV)--Nearly 70 percent of fourth graders in Arkansas are reading below the national level, that's according to a new study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families said, reading proficiently by the fourth grade is a key predictor of a student's future educational and economic success.

The Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading hopes that by 2020, all Arkansas children will read at grade level by the third grade.

By the end of third grade, experts said a student's reading ability predicts their school success and high school graduation.

Nearly 7 out of 10 Arkansas fourth graders do not read at proficient level according to a new study, which has experts worried for the future generation.

"We're two percentage points off the U.S. average, which is 66 percent compared to our 68 percent, so while we're a little lower than the national average, it's still not a good number for either nationally or for Arkansas," said AR Advocates for Children and Families' Director of Education Policy and Finance, Jerri Derlikowski.

Derlikowski adds, there's an achievement gap between students with families with higher incomes and those with lower incomes. 54 percent of higher-income 4th graders are not at reading level, while 78 percent of low-income 4th graders are not. The gap between the two groups has increased from 19 percent to 24 percent in the last ten years.

"We know that low income children that higher income kids have during the summer and for after school activities that are enrichment for those kids," said Derlikowski.

The Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families sites that Pre-K is crucial to advancing reading skills. While Arkansas has done a good job for making Pre-K available, there's a waiting list now, because the state has not increased Pre-K funding in six years.