Teach reading as early as possible

Idaho students need strong reading skills to be successful in school and secure productive futures. From birth through third grade, children are learning to read. After third grade, they read to learn.

Research shows that the factors that impact reading skills are school readiness, chronic absenteeism, summer learning loss, and early childhood education.

The early years are the most important for establishing a foundation that will sustain learning gains. Three quarters of
students who are poor readers in third grade remain poor readers in high school. In Idaho in 2012, 24 percent of third graders were not at benchmark, according to the Spring Idaho Reading Indicator. The results in Idaho were even worse for minority students: 36 percent of Hispanic students and 88 percent of black students were not at benchmark. Idaho needs to be sure that every school district is providing accurate and effective diagnosis and evidence based interventions.

Partnerships must be built with families and Idaho must address quality and access to early childhood education.

Idaho’s students must read well to succeed in school and in life. If we fail to prepare our students adequately, we will face large economic costs. Each high school dropout costs our country an estimated $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes and productivity.

The U.S. gross domestic product could have been $1.3 to $2.3 trillion dollars higher in 2008 if students had met the educational achievement levels of higher-performing nations between 1983 and 1998.

Currently, in Idaho only 32 percent of adults ages 25 to 34 have an associate’s degree or higher. By 2018, it is projected that 61 percent of jobs in Idaho will require postsecondary education.

We must focus on education, particularly preschool through third grade to establish a foundation for learning, so that Idaho’s citizens will be prepared for the increasingly demanding job market and the future.