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Friday, April 8, 2011 - 8:00am

Study: Third Grade Is Key To Later Life

A new national study shows, students who don't learn to read well by third grade are more likely to drop out of high school.

Taifa Butler of the of the Georgia Family Connection Partnership says, the study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation only strengthens the case for a concerted effort at grade-level reading.

"Between birth and third grade children are learning to read," Butler says. "But by fourth grade they're then reading to learn."

Georgia's third-graders are improving reading skills, but still lag significantly by race and income.

The most recent available test results show, 94% of Georgia third-graders met or exceeded state reading standards.

But minorities and the poor still have a huge gap.

"There are some huge gaps in terms of some students who are not meeting those standards," Butler says. "That's where Georgia has to move forward and really focus on the achievement gap."

The study looked at about 4,000 students nationwide.

It finds kids four times likely to drop out of high school if they don't learn to read on level by third grade.

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