3rd Grade Reading Success Matters

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Emerging Issues

The Campaign has identified several issues that bear on our effort to increase the number of students reading proficiently by the end of third grade. They include:

English-Language Learners:

The goal of reading proficiently by the end of third grade presents particular challenges to both teacher and student when a child is still learning English. The highest quality ESL content programs today close about half of the total achievement gap. Currently English language learners constitute nearly 11 percent of the prek-12 population, nearly 6 million students. Many of them are born in the United States but grow up speaking another language in the home. By 2025, kids learning English could account for a quarter of our public school students. Recognizing this, the Campaign is enlisting experts and educators who specialize in teaching English language learners to develop materials and strategies for helping this growing population achieve academically.

Learning Disabilities:

The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, in partnership with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, has funded the paper “Don’t “Dys” our Kids.” The core conclusion of the paper is that it is impossible to close the achievement gap and reach grade-level reading for all students without providing a “universal design for learning” for those with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities. Creating this universal design for the 2.5 million school children who are formally diagnosed with dyslexia has one other benefit—it helps to educate all children in any zip code, in any school, from any family in America. The paper provides a short list of recommended actions that can be embraced by The Campaign and be a critical part of its recipe for success.


Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, and Stewart Hudson, president of the Tremaine Foundation at a policy briefing on Dyslexia and the Quest for Grade-Level Reading Proficiency.

Looking for ways to help children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities (LD) improve their reading skills? These resources offer information, advice and support.

Retention Policies:

The importance of reading well by the end of third grade has prompted several states to enact or consider automatic retention policies holding back struggling readers. This is a complex, divisive issue that does not lend itself to easy answers. The Campaign supports a smart promotion approach that recognizes the importance of starting early to achieve reading proficiency. Read more about smart promotion in the forward to the Early Warning Confirmed report.

Contacts: Research and contacts for retention


The Campaign is reaching out to leaders working to improve instruction in STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math. Rather than choose between these educational priorities, schools should find ways to integrate literacy with STEM instruction. This can be as simple as using science texts for reading lessons. Integration can also go much deeper, incorporating problem solving, vocabulary building, writing and speaking through STEM activities.