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Educational Opportunity

Basic reading proficiency is one of the core developmental milestones in a child’s educational experience. Minnesota has identified the end of grade three as an expectation for proficient beginning reading for students. Third grade literacy is a critical milestone: research shows that third grade students who are not reading proficiently face long-term challenges.1 Providing quality instruction, assessments, interventions, and curriculum is the foundation for developing comprehensive systems of support for all learners in order to achieve reading proficiency by the end of third grade.

Third grade proficiency does not represent the end of learning to read, as increasingly complex texts demand continued instruction in the skills and strategies necessary to gain adequate reading proficiency for later postsecondary or “career and college” success. 

Right now, only 48 percent of third-grade students in Minnesota’s public schools proficient in reading. When we compare students based on their family's income, those who qualify for free or reduced lunch are only half as likely to be proficient readers compared to students from higher-income families. There are also big differences between different racial groups. Fewer than 1 in 3 African American, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students are proficient readers, which is 11 to 33 percentage points lower than their white classmates.

Through strengthening instructional literacy practices, data informed decisions, and collaboration between early childhood programs and schools, families and communities, all children in Minnesota, especially our most persistently and systematically underserved, will experience policies and procedures that embody a multilayered, equity-centered systemic approach to honoring multiple identities and instilling a sense of agency and belonging for all members of the school community.

Goal: Every child in Minnesota can read at or above grade level and multilingual learners and students receiving special education services are supported in achieving their individualized reading goals.

Measurable goal for 2027: Increase the percent of students reading at or above grade level by the end of grade 3. Target in development

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Source: Minnesota MCA and MTAS data, 2019-2022. Minnesota Department of Education, 2023.
Technical notes: Assessments are administered in the spring of a school year to students in grades 3-8 and grade 10. Assessments were not administered in 2020.
1 Lesnick, J., Goerge, R.M., & Smithgall, C. (2010). Reading on grade level in third grade: How is it related to high school performance and college enrollment? Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
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