Nationally, 75% of students not reading by 3rd grade never catch up.
Distribution of students proficient or advanced in third grade reading, 2017
Percentage of third grade students proficient or advanced in reading, 2017

Read more in our 2017 Community Impact Report.



Third-grade reading proficiency is de ned as understanding written text, developing and interpreting meaning, and applying meaning to texts. Oklahoma has adopted four achievement-level proficiency descriptions: a) below basic, b) basic, c) proficient, and d) advanced. A basic-level reader can locate relevant information in text, make simple inferences, and interpret the meaning of a word in text. Proficient and advanced readers move further up the scale to draw conclusions, make evaluations, and support judgments.


The 2017 assessment found 36% of Tulsa region’s students scored proficient or higher, about 3% below the statewide level. Roughly a quarter of students from low-income households (24%) and students of color (26%) achieved proficiency. White, Asian, Multiracial and Native American students outperformed the all-student average.


Comparing these numbers with the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) fourth-grade reading assessment provides a rough sense of how Oklahoma students are doing. Tulsa area students are narrowly behind the state, where 33% percent of Oklahomans achieved proficiency compared to 35% nationwide.



Children with the lowest reading scores account for approximately 63% of all children who do not graduate from high school.




Without intervention, the gap between struggling and fluent readers continues to exist over time. Students who have lower achievement scores remain there or fall further behind without help. A study conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (2013) outlines five contributors to low performance.


  • school readiness
  • chronic absence
  • summer learning
  • family stressors
  • quality teaching



Because students can struggle with one or more of these, educators must customize interventions to individual students or small groups. Students need extra support outside the classroom as well. Summer breaks, for example, can lead to the regression of reading skills, especially for low-income students. Students who live in low-income households regress 2.5 to 3 months more over the summer than affluent peers. By sixth grade, some studies show as much as a 2-year and 7-month difference in reading achievement that can be attributed to summer slide.


Parents and community members can help support educators in this important area by ensuring students are in school every day and providing the extra practice students need to become fluent readers.


Reading Partners engaged 1,468 community volunteers in 2016-17 who provided more than 47,000 tutoring sessions for students like Taylen.


Since the beginning of the year, Taylen and his tutor have conquered several hurdles together, both personally and academically. He struggled with blending sounds to make a word. As a result, his classmates picked on him because he had to sound out the words. After a few months of working with his tutor, Taylen gained confidence in blending sounds and started to read aloud!


  • 89% of target students mastered key foundational reading skills needed to read at grade-level in third grade.
  • 83% of principals report improved school-wide reading performance.
  • 100% of teachers report Reading Partners is valuable to their school.
  • 95% of volunteers say they are satis ed with their experience.



Become a Reading Partner Today!