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Report: Colorado 4th graders struggling in reading, 8th graders in math

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(The Center Square) – Colorado’s fourth-grade students are struggling to read and its eighth graders are having trouble with math, according to this year’s KIDS COUNT Data Book published by The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The report stated 62% of fourth graders weren’t proficient in reading in 2022. In 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic, 60% of fourth graders weren’t proficient. Nationally, 68% of all fourth graders aren’t proficient in reading, compared to 66% in 2019.

Eighth graders not proficient in math increased to 72% in 2022, an increase in nine percentage points since 2019. The national percentage for the category is 74%, an increase of seven percentage points since 2019.

“… for educators, researchers, policymakers and employers who have been tracking students’ academic readiness, alarm bells have been sounding for a long time,” Lisa M. Hamilton, president and chief executive officer of the foundation, wrote in the report. “It’s past time not only to listen but to act.”

Hamilton’s opening letter in the report emphasized the importance of fundamental academic achievement for the country and the economy to remain strong into the future.

“To be clear, children are more than test scores,” Hamilton wrote. “Simplifying the potential of any child, any person, to a scaled score on a standardized assessment is something we must not do. Neither should we gauge the effectiveness of teachers or schools solely by test scores. Rather, these scores, like the other indicators in this Data Book, are tools we can use to understand what kids need and which disparities require targeted interventions.”

The report cited information from the National Survey of Children’s Health. It found 40% of children in 2021-22 had an adverse experience, defined as an economic hardship, a divorce or separation of the child’s parents, a parent who died or served time in jail, witnessing domestic or neighborhood violence, living with someone with a mental illness or substance abuse problem, or being treated unfairly due to race or ethnicity. The report found 39% of Colorado children had one or more adverse childhood experiences in 2021-22.

It also reported 30% or 14.7 million students in 2021-22 were chronically absent, defined as missing 10% or more days during the academic year. Colorado had 36% of its students listed as chronically absent.

The report ranked Colorado 17th overall in the nation, down from last year’s rating of 15th. It based the rating on the economic well being of children (14th), education (15th), health (28th) and family and community benchmarks (ninth).

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