By the age of eight, only a third of students have grade-level literacy, math and science skills, according to The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success. The Casey Foundation report used federal data to track 13,000 children from kindergarten through middle school.
The data analysis showed that by 3rd grade, 56 percent were on track with physical development, 70 percent with social and emotional growth, and 74 percent in their level of school engagement.
. . . 19 percent of 3rd graders in families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line—in 2001, that was $35,920 for a family of four—were hitting their cognitive development milestones. In comparison, 50 percent of children in families above that income level hit that mark.
The analysis also showed that 14 percent of black children and 19 percent of Hispanic children were on track in cognitive development.
This strikes me as the Lake Wobegon effect in reverse. Instead of all the kids being above average, two thirds are below average. If only half the middle-class and affluent kids are on track cognitively, “on track” must be too high.
The report advocates “quality birth-through-8 education programs targeted at children from low-income families” and linking preschool providers to elementary schools, notes Education Week.