Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


November 12, 2013

Reading proficiency: Welcomed improvements in W.Va., Va.

— — A new national assessment shows Virginia and West Virginia fourth-graders’ reading and math skills are continuing to improve. That’s good news. Although we may live in a digital age, we believe there are still few things in life more important than reading. And it’s a passion that should be shared by young and old alike.

In Virginia, the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that 43 percent of fourth-graders met or exceeded the assessment’s reading proficiency standard. That’s up from 39 percent in 2011 and 38 percent in 2009.

Fourth-graders’ math skills also improved, the Associated Press reported. Forty-seven percent met or exceeded the proficiency standard in 2013, compared to 46 percent in 2011 and 43 percent in 2009.

Eighth-graders’ reading proficiency was unchanged from 2011 as 36 percent met or exceeded the proficiency standard. Thirty-two percent met or exceeded the standard in 2009.

Lawmakers in Virginia have taken welcomed steps in recent years to improve the reading skills of students. In 2012, the General Assembly approved Gov. Bob McDonnell’s request for funds to provide early reading intervention services for 100 percent of eligible students in grades K-3 and to make the promotion of students who fail the grade three reading Standards of Learning test contingent on intervention. The General Assembly also approved earlier this year McDonnell’s request for state funding for an additional reading specialist in elementary schools with grade-3 reading pass rates below 75 percent.

In West Virginia, the study found that 35 percent of fourth graders and 24 percent of eighth graders scored at or above the proficient level in math. In 2011, 31 percent of fourth graders and 21 percent of eighth graders met or exceeded the standard.

And 25 percent of eighth graders in the Mountain State scored at or above the reading proficient level, up from 24 percent in 2011. Twenty-seven percent of fourth graders met or exceeded the standard, the same as in 2011.

We are encouraged and pleased by the improvements in reading skills shown by youngsters in both Virginia and West Virginia.

By encouraging students to read at an early age, we are helping to prepare the youngsters for a much brighter future. A love of reading will open many doors for youngsters as they progress through their school years, and later into adulthood. Children who read succeed in life.

Encouraging our children to read — everyday — should be a priority for all parents, educators, concerned citizens and community leaders alike.

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