New results from Florida’s 3rd grade reading exams statewide aren’t good, showing that only about a quarter of kids tested in public schools could read proficiently, meaning they scored a 4 or 5 on the crucial exam.

Even by a more liberal analysis by the Department of Education — one that allows kids to pass the exam with the traditional score of at least a 3 — shows a concerning picture: Just 53 percent of 3rd graders could pass the 2022 reading exam, down from 54 percent the year before, according to statewide averages.

In fact, the state’s data shows some stagnation: The 2022 results are the same as the 3rd grade reading results back in 2015, likely in part of the COVID pandemic.

“Teaching our children to read at grade level by grade 3 is the underpinning to every student’s pathway to lifelong success, and it is why the Grade 3 reading results decline is troubling,” Patricia Levesque, executive director of Foundation for Florida’s Future, said in a written statement responding to the reading results.

Foundation for Florida’s Future is an education-focused non-profit founded by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

In Florida, the 3rd grade reading exams are key, typically requiring 3rd graders to earn a passing grade in order to move on to 4th grade.

The results are also crucial as students move through the school system. Reading becomes a foundational tool for the rest of a student’s school career in every subject after entering the fourth grade, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Read the full article about third-grade reading levels by Danielle J. Brown at The 74.