Nationally, 75% of students not reading by 3rd grade never catch up.


The third-grade reading proficiency rates shown in this report use the Lexile reading framework. The Lexile framework assesses the difficulty of reading materials and provides a way to match readers with appropriate text. Guided by ImpactTulsa partner superintendents and data council, Lexile framework was selected because it is based on a rigorous continuous scale that measures students’ ability to read and comprehend more complex text as they are promoted to each grade level. A 600 Lexile or higher is considered third-grade reading proficient.


Multi-year trends show little movement in third-grade reading proficiency in the Tulsa region from 2014 to 2016. At 554L, the Tulsa area median is similar to that of US students nationally. However, there are bright spots that show progress for student subgroups. While a reading achievement gap remains by income, it has slightly decreased by 9L points from 2014 to 2016. Hispanic student Lexile scores increased by 37L points from 2015 to 2016. The median Hispanic student is reading about onequarter of a school year ahead of last year.


African American students have not seen similar improvement. Their median Lexile scores have remained between 390L and 400L across the three years, meaning an African American third grader is more than a year behind their white peers in reading.


Reading proficiently by the end of third grade is an important milestone and early predictor of future education attainment and employment prospects. The Oklahoma Reading Sufficiency Act (RSA) mandates that the end of year third-grade reading test be used as a measure to retain students who are not proficient. In 2016, over 6,300 students statewide were eligible to repeat third grade based on RSA criteria. That is 12% of the third-grade student population based on state standards at the time.


ImpactTulsa partners with The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a national organization focusing on increasing third-grade reading proficiency by addressing chronic absenteeism, summer learning loss, and school readiness. “Starting early” is the focal point of their work. They encourage more investment in early learning programs and interventions to reduce the need for remediation in later years.


To find out what is working in the Tulsa area, ImpactTulsa partnered with local schools, educators, administrators and graduate teaching programs to investigate “bright spots” in third-grade reading. ImpactTulsa identified high-performing schools whose reading proficiency rates were outperforming schools with similar demographics. They interviewed principals, teachers and reading coaches about literacy instruction at their schools. Five distinct characteristics on par with national research were published in a Literacy Lessons Learned Guide.

Making an impact

ImpactTulsa encourages our community to help fund supplies for Pre-K through third grade literacy innovations for Tulsa-area teachers.


Through DonorsChoose.org, Teachers in the Tulsa-area can request supplies needed to offer innovative ways to help their students learn to read. Their projects are posted to DonorsChoose.org, a national non-profit that vets the projects and directly ships the teachers the supplies once funded.


Support a classroom today!