At the onset of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, third-grade literacy was 41.8 percent. That was nearly five years ago. The literacy rate declined sharply to 10.7 percent last year, nearly a 75 percent drop.

Though the literacy crisis did not begin with the contamination of Flint’s water supply, it will not end unless state officials address how poverty — rampant in Flint and other districts across the state — affects children in school, he said.

Meanwhile, failure to reach reading proficiency in third grade can have long-term detrimental effects on learning and achievement. Third grade marks the point at which children transition from learning how to read to reading in order to learn, according to educators who see it as a bellwether.

Research shows that students who lack reading proficiency in third grade are four times as likely to not complete high school as those who are proficient.

There does not seem to be a long-term plan in place to track kids and assess damage to children poisoned by the water. A registry was created last week, but no one has been closely monitoring the development and well-being of the children in Flint.

Read the full article about how poverty affects education by Kei-Sygh Thomas at The 74.