PROVIDENCE – Gov. Gina M. Raimondo said Wednesday that the state will put in place a series of initiatives before the end of the year, which will improve the development of skills in a child’s first eight years, including reaching the goal of 75 percent of third graders reading at grade level or higher by 2025.
Raimondo, in a statement, said she was “disappointed, frustrated and … impatient” by the fact that only one-third of Rhode Island third graders currently are reading on grade level.
“Study after study shows that the number one indicator of high school graduation and future success is a child’s ability to read on grade level by third grade,” she said.
The announcement was made at Pawtucket’s Francis J. Varier Elementary School where more than 60 percent of third grade students met reading level expectations in 2015, jumping 17 percentage points from the previous year.
According to Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, 37 percent of the state’s third graders met or exceeded reading levels on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers English language arts assessment last year, which is slightly higher than the national average of 35 percent.
Progress on the third-grade reading strategic goal and success of the initiatives which support the goal will be monitored by the Governor’s Performance Management team. Later this month, Raimondo also will unveil strategic goals related to secondary and higher education.
Raimondo’s initiatives to help young children develop early reading skills include expanding and improving the quality of Rhode Island’s pre-kindergarten programs, putting Rhode Island on track to triple the number of four-year-olds enrolled in pre-K by 2018; expanding all-day kindergarten to every community in the state; signing the Home Visiting Act to help connect new parents, particularly low-income parents, with evidence-based supports and services that lead to improved language, cognitive and social and emotional development; and improving childcare quality for low-income families by offering childcare workers educational incentives.