Our Approach

What Works for Third Grade Reading

This resource is a compilation of evidence- and research-based policy, practice, program and capacity-building options that can move the needle on the major factors that impact children’s reading proficiency at third grade. Created by the Institute for Child Success and the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, in collaboration with BEST NC, the working papers address 12 of the North Carolina Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Initiative’s Measures of Success. There are four working papers in each of three Pathways goals areas:

  • Health and Development on Track, Beginning at Birth
  • Supported and Supportive Families and Communities
  • High Quality Birth-through-age-Eight Learning Environments with Regular Attendance

Each working paper details why the Pathways measure matters for third-grade reading, outlines how it is connected to the other Pathways Measures of Success, defines relevant terms and offers national research-based options that can impact the measure, including polices (federal, state legislative, state departmental, and local), practices (protocols to implement policies, some which might be driving good outcomes, and some which might be obstacles to improving outcomes), and programs and capacities (provider capacity, parent capacity, public understanding and will-building, and array of quality programs to move the measures). All sources are cited.

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Authored by Janice M. Gruendel, Ph.D., Institute for Child Success; Mandy Ableidinger, North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation; and Keller Anne Ruble, Institute for Child Success.

 

  Read this Document First – An Overview of the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Working Papers and Suggested Guidance Guidance for Using the Pathways Working Papers.

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  Healthy Birthweight. Infants born weighing less than 2,500 grams (5.5 pounds) are at greater risk for physical and developmental problems than infants of normal weight. Children who are born at a low birth weight are at higher risk for long-term illness or disability and are more likely to be enrolled in special education classes or to repeat a grade.

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  Early Intervention. Without appropriate supports and services in the early years, children with special educational needs are less likely to be ready for school and are at higher risk for poor educational outcomes.

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  Social-Emotional Health. Emotional health and social competence enable children to participate in learning and form good relationships with teachers and peers. Research is increasingly finding that self-regulation and social-emotional health are among the most critical building blocks for children’s learning.

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  Physical Health. Parents’ self- reported health status of their children strongly correlates to their children’s actual health, particularly at young ages. Healthy children are better able to engage in experiences crucial to the learning process.

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  Formal and Informal Family Supports. Both formal and informal services and supports that help families obtain basic necessities and that enhance protective factors all contribute to children’s overall well-being and increase families’ abilities to deal with a range of issues.

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  Safe at Home. Child abuse and neglect are linked to language deficits, reduced cognitive functioning, social and behavioral difficulties, and attention de cit disorders. The incidence of child abuse and neglect is reduced when protective factors (such as social support, high quality reliable out-of-home child care, access to treatment of depression, and decent housing) are strengthened, and risk factors (such as poverty, social isolation, absence of supportive adults, and violence in the home or neighborhood) are lessened.

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  Positive Parent-Child Interactions. The opportunity to form secure attachments with sensitive, nurturing caregivers is critical to children’s cognitive and social-emotional growth. The lack of a warm, positive relationship with parents/caregivers increases the risk that children develop major behavioral and emotional problems, including substance abuse, antisocial behavior, and juvenile delinquency. Talking to children plays a direct role in building their vocabularies and strengthening their early literacy skills. A “word gap” between children from low-income and middle-income families predicts gaps in academic achievement.

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  Reading with Children. Reading to children promotes a child’s cognitive and emotional growth and strengthens parent-child bonding. A positive correlation exists between regular parental book reading and young children’s language development, early reading achievement, and school readiness.

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High Quality Birth-through-age-Eight Early Care and Education. Children who attend high quality early education programs and elementary schools are better prepared for success in school— academically, socially and emotionally. Economically disadvantaged three- and four-year-old children who participate in high-quality preschool programs have be er school achievement, social skills and behavior than children who do not participate in a preschool experience or who are enrolled in a low-quality program. Children in higher quality programs have more advanced language and math skills, more advanced social skills, and warmer relationships with their teachers.

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  Promotion to Next Grade. A large body of research suggests that students retained in the early years achieve at lower levels, are more likely to drop out of high school, and have worse social-emotional outcomes than similar students who are promoted.

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  Summer Learning. While middle-income students tend to hold steady or gain in learning over the summer, low-income students lose ground, likely because students from disadvantaged families are less able to access educational resources than their more advantaged peers during the summer months. The cumulative effects of year-after-year summer learning loss contributes to the achievement gaps between higher- and lower-income students. Learning opportunities and book access during the summer months can contribute to children’s short- and long-term outcomes.

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  Regular Attendance. Children, particularly those with multiple risk factors, benefit from regular attendance in child care, where they establish good attendance and learning habits. Consistent school attendance in the early grades helps boost children’s academic learning, achievement, and motivation. Early chronic absenteeism is associated with lower academic achievement, truancy in middle school, school dropout, delinquency, and substance abuse. e educational experience of all children is impacted when teachers must divert their attention to meet the needs of chronically absent children when they are in school.

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