The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released its 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book, which compares states on a number of indicators of child well-being, with #1 being the best and #50 the worst. Massachusetts ranks 11th in economic well-being and 21st for children living in high-poverty areas. The commonwealth ranks second in child health and first in health care coverage. And, thanks to the state’s performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Massachusetts ranks first in education.
As we’ve reported earlier, Massachusetts fourth graders earned top scores on the 2011 NAEP test in reading. However, a closer look reveals that half of our fourth graders scored below proficient in reading. And the achievement gap remains wide:
- Among fourth graders whose families are low income, 25% scored proficient or above in reading; among children whose families are not low income, 63% scored proficient or above.
- Among white fourth graders in the Bay State, 59% scored proficient or above on the 2011 NAEP test in reading, as did 56% of Asian children. Among African-American fourth graders, however, only 24% scored proficient of above, as did 23% of Hispanic children.
Being #1 isn’t good enough. Massachusetts can and must do better. “The challenge remains to offer real opportunity and security to every child,”” Noah Berger, president of MassBudget, the KIDS COUNT grantee in Massachusetts, said in a news release.
An Act Relative to Third Grade Reading Proficiency would make children’s literacy a state priority and would establish an Early Literacy Expert Panel to advise state education agencies on research-based strategies to improve children’s language and literacy development, from birth to age 9. After earning unanimous approval by the Massachusetts House of Representatives on July 11, the bill now awaits action in the state Senate.
(Massachusetts readers, click here to urge your senator to pass An Act Relative to Third Grade Reading Proficiency before the legislative session ends on July 31.)