TheElectricCompany

 

 

Third Plus

Proportion of 4th graders that score below basic reading levels

The literacy crisis today is as pervasive and alarming as it was in 1971 when Sesame Workshop created the first version of The Electric Company. We know that if struggling readers don't get the literacy help they need by the end of second grade, they are in danger of never catching up.

Extending the primary goal of literacy skills development, the theme for this season of The Electric Company is the math vocabulary. Math literacy is a key component of STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). By introducing words that are related to topics like probability, coin value and measurement, we provide children language to discuss, explore and further their understanding of these concepts. Mastering foundational literacy skills and numeracy concepts are essential for success in and beyond elementary school.

More than one-third of public school 4th graders score BELOW basic levels on reading exams.1

By demographic:

  • 54% of African American fourth graders read below grade level
  • 50% of American Indian fourth graders read below grade level
  • 51% Hispanic/Latino fourth graders read below grade level
  • 20% of Asian American fourth graders read below grade level
  • 22% of Caucasian fourth graders read below grade level
30mil

Deficit in words heard between impoverished and priveleged children

Recent international assessments indicate that American students are consistently outperformed in mathematics and science by their peers in countries such as China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.2

National surveys indicate that large numbers of our nation's adult population, 16 years of age and older, do not demonstrate sufficient literacy and numeracy skills needed to fully participate in an increasingly competitive work environment.3

During the critical early years of cognitive development, many impoverished children lack opportunities to build their literacy skills. They generally hear 30 million fewer words by age three than their more privileged peers (due to a limited experience of being spoken or read aloud to). When these disadvantaged children start kindergarten, they are already well behind their more affluent peers in terms of vocabulary knowledge. Without effective intervention, this "literacy gap" grows wider as years pass.4

Brick Wall

The "4th grade wall" is a key literacy milestone

First graders who are not on grade level by the end of the school year have a 1 in 10 chance of ever achieving grade level reading proficiency.5

The first three grades are the time to learn basic literary skills. When children enter the fourth grade, they are expected to use these skills to tackle information that is new to them. In grades one, two and three children are expected to learn to read. After that, they read to learn unfamiliar and more difficult content. This is one reason why we often hear teachers talk about "the fourth grade wall" – an obstacle too formidable for many kids to scale.6

In 2003, as many as five percent of adults over the age of 16 (11 million adults) were non-literate in English, 14 percent (30 million) were below basic in literacy, and another 29 percent (63 million) possessed only basic literacy skills.7

1 U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2009 Grade 4 Reading Assessment.

2 Provasnik, S., Gonzales, P., and Miller, D. (2009). U.S. Performance Across International Assessments of Student Achievement: Special Supplement to The Condition of Education 2009 (NCES 2009-083). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.

3 Kirsch, Braun, Yamamoto, & Sum, 2007, National Center for Family Literacy. www.famlit.org/media-resources/statistics/

4 Hart, B. and Risley, T., The 30 Million Word Gap. American Educator, Spring 2003.

5 Katz, Linda. 2000. Children's Literacy Initiative. Importance of Investing in Literacy. http://www.cliontheweb.org

6 U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2009 Grade 4 Reading Assessment.

7 U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.

The contents of this media kit were developed under grant #U295A100025 from the Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.