Building solid reading & math skills by 3rd grade


The importance of elementary reading & math skills.

Research shows that by the end of 3rd grade, 16% of students not reading proficiently do not graduate high school on time. That rate rises to 26% for non-minority students who live in poverty, to 25% for African American and Hispanic students, and to 30%+ for African American and Hispanic students in poverty. 

State & local data on elementary reading & math.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically decreased reading and math proficiency rates for elementary students.

60.5% of all elementary students are not proficient in reading.

68.6% are not proficient in math.

Those numbers increase by as much as 20% for underserved student groups.

The Prichard Committee has created Community Profiles that include proficiency rates for 3rd-grade reading and math in each district. Click this link and select your district from the drop-down menu at the top of the page. 

To find out how an individual school is performing, visit the Kentucky Department of Education’s School Report Card and enter your school’s name on the homepage. Scroll to Academic Performance and click on Assessment Results.  


Ask the right people the right questions.

If you want to host a Community Conversation about 3rd-grade reading and math, consider who will attend that conversation.  

  • Families 
  • Educators & Administrators 
  • Legislators 
  • Community Leaders 

Tell the story of your data.

You can use these talking points to start your conversation.  

  • Reading and math skills are crucial to a student’s development, and are best measured at the end of 3rd grade. 
  • When students are not proficient at this time, they are more at risk of not graduating high school on time, are less likely to attend college, and earn a living wage.  
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on our elementary students locally.  

You can use this PowerPoint template to visually show your data to the audience. You can also use the images to share on your social media accounts. 


Advocate for change.

Using the information you’ve already created, you can advocate for change and funding for improvement by meeting with local community leaders, school board members and administrators, and state policy-makers who can put large-scale change into effect. 

Use this email template to set up a meeting.

Create local action.

You can also take action on your own by creating local campaigns to raise awareness about the issue. Here are some examples of how Kentuckians have engaged with their communities to improve 3rd-grade reading and math outcomes locally: