3rd Grade Reading Success Matters

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

Research Index


  • Attendance Works Research.

    A compendium of research from the Attendance Works website demonstrating the connection between absenteeism and poor academic performance as early as pre-kindergarten.

  • Attendance in Early Elementary Grades: Association with Student Characteristics, School Readiness and Third Grade Outcomes, Applied Survey Research, May 2011

    This analysis was conducted to investigate two questions: How does attendance in early grades (kindergarten and first grade) relate to third grade performance? And does the association between attendance and later outcomes depend on the readiness skills that students possess when they enter kindergarten?

  • Attendance in the Early Grades: Why it Matters for Reading, Attendance Works and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, February 2014. 

    This research brief includes a number of findings on the link between early attendance and reading. Findings include the fact that one in 10 kindergarten and first-grade students nationally are chronically absent, and that early absences correlate with reading difficulties in later years.

  • Alexander, Karl R. et al., Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap, American Sociological Review, April 2007

    In this article, researchers from Johns Hopkins University examine the long-term educational consequences of summer learning differences by family socioeconomic level. Using data from the Baltimore Beginning School Study youth panel, they decompose achievement scores at the start of high school into their developmental precursors, back to the time of school entry in 1st grade.


  • Balfanz, R., and V. Byrnes, The Importance of Being in School: A Report on Absenteeism in the Nation’s Public Schools. Johns Hopkins University Center for Social Organization of Schools, Baltimore, Md., 2012

    This research focuses on one of the primary indicators of dropping out — missing school. This report examines the scope and scale of the issue and finds that high absenteeism is rampant in schools, with some schools having as much as 40 percent of their students missing a month or more of school each year.

  • Belfield, Clive and Emma Garcia, Parental Notions of School Readiness: How Have They Changed and Has Preschool Made a Difference? National Institute for Early Education Research, February 2012

    Authors Clive Belfield and Emma Garcia use data from two waves of the National Household Education Surveys in this examination of school readiness from the perspective of parents of preschoolers. The authors test for changes in school readiness between 1993 and 2007 and relate these changes to the expansion of preschool enrollment.


  • The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, “The 30 Million Word Gap: The Role of Parent-Child Verbal Interaction in Language and Literacy Development.”

    This research brief gives an overview of studies on vocabulary development and the role of parents’ verbal interaction in early literacy.

  • Sheila Byrd Carmichael et al. "The State of State Standards - and the Common Core - in 2010." Thomas B. Fordham Institute, July 2010. h

    The Common Core State Standards for English/language arts (ELA) and math for K-12 schools are clearer and more rigorous than most of those developed by individual states, according to a study by the Fordham Institute.

  • Judith Carroll, "Closing the Achievement Gap: Early Reading Success and Connecticut's Economic Future." Connecticut Association for Human Services, September 2010.

    The state report analyzes demographic and achievement data and offers recommendations for eliminating the achievement gap and getting more children to read proficiently by the end of third grade.

  • Hedy N. Chang and Mariajose Romero, “Present, Engaged & Accounted For: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades.” National Center for Children in Poverty, September 2008.

    One in 10 kindergarten and first grade students misses a month or more of school every year, absences that correlate with poor academic performance in later years, according to “Present, Engaged & Accounted For: The Critical Importance of Addressing Chronic Absence in the Early Grades,” from the National Center for Children in Poverty.

  • Cynthia Chiong, Carly Shuler, "Learning: Is there an app for that?" The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, November 2010.

    New media is on the rise and as an increasing number of parents are “passing back” this new technology to their kids, more parents, educators and scholars question whether young children should be using these devices. A new report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center finds that parents doubt the educational value of mobile apps; however, they do support new experimentation.

  • Cynthia Chiong, "Can Video Games Promote Intergenerational Play and Literacy Learning?" The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, December 2009.

    A report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop focuses on the long tradition of multiple generations interacting with television and concludes that video games and other digital platforms are ripe for providing the kinds of activities that could engage kids and parents together in pursuit of learning.

  • Flavio Cunha and James J. Heckman, "Investing in Our Young People." National Bureau of Economic Research, July 2010.

    This paper by Flavia Cunha and James J. Heckman explores the value of noncognitive skills, such as dependability and persistence, that children develop in preschool. While preK may not always raise IQ, it can help children develop self control and other skills that are crucial to success in school and in life.

  • Kathy Christie and Stephanie Rose. "A Problem Still in Search of a Solution: A State Policy Roadmap for Improving Early Reading Proficiency." Education Commission of the States, 2012.

    This state policy roadmap uses data, research, and state policy examples to illustrate the importance of both system supports and the culture of schools and classrooms in improving early reading proficiency — and how each complements and relies on the other.



  • Education Week, “Diplomas Count 2010.” Editorial Projects in Education, June 2010.

    The annual Diplomas Count report from Education Week looks at the challenges facing many students and districts and how schools are using data to help ore students finish high school and earn diplomas.


  • Fiester, Leila. "Don't 'Dys' Our Kids: Dyslexia and the Quest for Grade-Level Reading Proficiency." October 2012. Commissioned by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation in partnership with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

    This report provides a far-reaching overview of the history and progress in understanding and meeting the needs of children with dyslexia, as well as the persisting challenges that must be overcome, to ensure that all students can read proficiently by the third grade. Don’t Dys Our Kids also highlights best practices and examples of solutions that are already working in communities. Based on interviews with nearly 30 experts, the report includes a collection of recommended actions for advancing this movement.

  • Fiester, Leila. Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters, The Annie E. Casey Foundation. May 2010.

    Children who read on grade level by the end of third grade are more successful in school, work, and in life. This KIDS COUNT special report affirms a commitment by the Casey Foundation to help ensure that all students are proficient in reading by the end of third grade and help narrow the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children.

  • Fiester, Leila.  Early Warning Confirmed, Annie E. Casey Foundation. June 2013

    An update on the research that launched the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.


  • Barbara Goodson et al. "The Effectiveness of a Program to Accelerate Vocabulary Development in Kindergarten (VOCAB): Kindergarten Final Evaluation Report." Institute of Education Sciences and REL Southeast, November 2010.

    Children from disadvantaged backgrounds often have not learned the vocabulary that is required to learn to read and comprehend academic text. This study, prepared by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance with the Southern Regional Educational Laboratory, gauges the effectiveness of interventions for building vocabulary skills among kindergarten students.

  • Lisa Guernsey et al. "Pioneering Literacy in the Digital Wild West: Empowering Parents and Educators." The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. December 2012.

  • Gelber, Alexander M. and Adam Isen, Children’s Schooling and Parents’ Investment in Children: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study, National Bureau of Economic Research, December 2011

    Parents may have important effects on their children, but little work in economics explores whether children’s schooling opportunities crowd out or encourage parents’ investment in children. This study analyzes data from the Head Start Impact Study, which granted randomly-chosen preschool-aged children the opportunity to attend Head Start. It finds that Head Start causes a substantial increase in parents’ involvement with their children—such as time spent reading to children, math activities, or days spent with children by fathers who do not live with their children—both during and after the period when their children are potentially enrolled in Head Start.


  • Donald J. Hernandez, "Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation." Annie E. Casey Foundation, April 2011.

    A national study released in April 2011 and updated in March 2012 shows that students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma than proficient readers. Poverty compounds the problem: Students who have lived in poverty and don't read well are 13 times more likely to drop out or fail to graduate on time than their more affluent peers.

  • Hart, Betty M. and Todd R. Risley, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children, Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., 1995

    Researchers examined language development in young children and the effects of home experiences on children’s development. Families were grouped into three socioeconomic categories based on parents’ occupation: professional families, working class families and families who were on welfare. These groupings were strongly associated with parent education levels and family income.

  • Heckman, J.J., “The Economics of Inequality, The Value of Early Childhood Education,” American Educator, Spring 2011

    The article focuses on the economic value of equalizing educational opportunities and achievement in order to identify the most effective way to increase the productivity of the American economy.

  • Heckman, J.J., “Skill formation and the economics of investing in disadvantaged children,” Science, 2006; 312(5782):1900–1902

    This paper summarizes evidence on the effects of early environments on child, adolescent, and adult achievement. Life cycle skill formation is a dynamic process in which early inputs strongly affect the productivity of later inputs.




      • W.K. Kellogg Foundation, “New Poll: Adults Working With Youths Say Minority Children Face More Obstacles to Health and Success than White Counterparts.” July 2010.

        Minority children and teenagers have fewer opportunities than white counterparts to be healthy, obtain a quality education and achieve economic success, according to a national survey of adults whose jobs involve children’s education, health and economic well-being. The groundbreaking poll was released by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which sought to gauge the level of disparities affecting children of color.

      • G. Thomas Kingsley and Leah Hendey, "Using Data to Promote Collaboration in Local School Readiness Systems." The Urban Institute, August 2010.

        Efforts to prepare our youngest children for school are often fragmented and isolated in silos, according to a new study by the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership and the Urban Institute. The study of eight cities found that children in need of services are often concentrated in low-income neighborhoods and that the best results are likely when a collaboration of stakeholders, inside and outside government, adopts a coherent school readiness system.



      • Marietta, Geoff, “Lessons for PreK-3rd from Montgomery County Public Schools.” Foundation for Child Development, November 2010.

        This Foundation for Child Development case study looks at Montgomery County Public Schools, a model school district that has seen system-wide success, improving equity and overall student achievement in the early grades.

      • Jennifer Sloan McCombs et al., "Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning." RAND Corporation, June 2011.

        A new study from the RAND Corporation, examines students’ loss of knowledge and educational skills during the summer months. The study, commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, finds that this loss is cumulative over the course of a student’s career and further widens the achievement gap.


      • National Assessment of Educational Progress 2009

        The so-called Nation’s Report Card includes extensive data on student achievement in reading for national, state, and urban district samples. The most recent results are from 2009, however the data tools on the NAEP website allow for comparisons across samples and from previous years.

      • National Association for the Education of Young Children, "State Early Care and Education Public Policy Developments: Fiscal Year 2010."

        This National Association for the Education of Young Children report highlights enacted legislation, new initiatives approved by states, major funding increases and decreases, and any other significant fiscal or policy changes that impact early childhood education in the states for Fiscal Year 2012.

      • National Association of Elementary School Principals, “Building and Supporting an Aligned System: A Vision for Transforming Education Across the Pre-K-Grade Three Years.” July 2011

        This report by the National Association of Elementary School Principals offers ten recommendations for building an aligned system of early learning for children from age three to eight. Recommendations include funding, federal and state policy integration, workforce development, and standards and assessments.

      • Nyhan, Paul, “The Power of PreK-3rd: How a Small Foundation Helped Push Washington State to the Forefront of the PreK-3rd Movement.” Foundation for Child Development, September 2011.

        This Foundation for Child Development case study describes how The New School Foundation influenced primary education reform in Washington state by creating one of the leading PreK–third programs in the United States. The PreK-third program was implemented in two of the lowest performing public schools in Seattle. After eight years encountering obstacles and resistance, the PreK-third program at South Shore School began to produce results. Now, not only is this program influencing other districts in Washington, but also PreK-third efforts in the rest of the country.

      • National Assessment of Educational Progress 2011:

        The so-called Nation’s Report Card includes extensive data on student achievement in reading for national, state, and urban district samples. The most recent results are from 2009, however the data tools on the NAEP website allow for comparisons across samples and from previous years.

      • National Assessment of Educational Progress 2013

        The so-called Nation’s Report Card includes extensive data on student achievement in reading for national, state, and urban district samples. The most recent results are from 2009, however the data tools on the NAEP website allow for comparisons across samples and from previous years.



        • Pew Center on the States. "Transforming Public Education: Pathway to a Pre-K-12 Future." September 2011

          This report explores the ways family involvement enhances high-quality preK. It also recommends actions policy makers can take to ensure that state programs help families establish a firm foundation of engagement in their children’s learning when it matters most – in the early years of life.

        • Pre-K Coalition, “The Importance of Aligning Pre-K through 3rd Grade.” 2012

          The Pre-K Coalition has released a new policy brief detailing how aligning early education from PreK through third grade can increase grade-level reading proficiency and recommending district, state, and federal policy to do so.

        • John Protzko, Joshua Aronson and Clancy Blair. "How To Make a Young Child Smarter: Evidence From the Database of Raising Intelligence." New York University, 2013.

          In this article, the authors examine nearly every available intervention involving children from birth to kindergarten, analyzing the effects of dietary supplementation to pregnant mothers and neonates, early educational interventions, interactive reading, and sending a child to preschool. All 4 meta-analyses yielded significant results: Supplementing infants with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, enrolling children in early educational interventions, reading to children in an interactive manner, and sending children to preschool all raise the intelligence of young children. **Note: the article must be purchased to view the full text. 




          • Katherine Sell, MSSP, et al. “The Effect of the Recession on Child Well-Being.” First Focus, November 2010.

            There are 15.5 million (one in five) children living in poverty, and, when there is a recession, they and their families are often the most vulnerable in terms of health, food security, housing stability and maltreatment. A new report from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that being poor for even a short period of time can have lasting health implications for children.

          • Timothy Shanahan et al. "Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade." Institute of Education Sciences, September 2010.

            Students who read with understanding at an early age gain access to a broader range of texts, knowledge, and educational opportunities, making early reading comprehension instruction particularly critical. This guide from the What Works Clearinghouse recommends five specific steps that teachers, reading coaches, and principals can take to successfully improve reading comprehension for young readers.




              • Tracy Vericker, Jennifer Ehrle Macomber and Olivia Golden. “Infants of Depressed Mothers Living in Poverty: Opportunities to Identify and Serve.” Urban Institute, August 2010

                A study from the Urban Institute looks at incidence of depression in low-income mothers and its impact on parenting and child development. ”A mom who is too sad to get up in the morning won’t be able to take care of all of her child’s practical needs,” researcher Olivia Golden, who co-authored the paper with two colleagues at the Washington-based Urban Institute, told The Washington Post. “If she is not able to take joy in her child, talk baby talk, play with the child – those are features of parenting that brain development research has told us contribute to babies’ and toddlers’ successful development.”


              • Ruth Chung Wei, Linda Darling-Hammond and Frank Adamson. "Professional Development in the United States: Trends and Challenges." National Staff Development Council and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, August 2010.

                This technical report from the National Staff Development Council and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education finds that while new teachers are benefitting from more induction services, teachers overall have less access to sustained professional development than they did a few years ago. The report is the second part of a larger study, which includes A Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States.




                  • Frederick J. Zimmerman, PhD et al., "Teaching by Listening: The Importance of Adult-Child Conversations to Language Development," Pediatrics, July 2009.

                    To help language development in young children, parents should not only talk and read to their children, but engage in two-way conversations. This study, led by UCLA Researcher Frederick Zimmerman, found that while parents should continue to talk, read, and tell their children stories, it is also important to allow children to ask questions and participate in the conversation as a way to improve language development.