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Report: Michigan's low-income 4th-graders need to improve their reading proficiency

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio
(file photo)

A new report finds Michigan’s poorest children have failed to make up any ground in their reading skills in the past decade.

According to the latest Kids Count report, 81% of low-income 4th-graders in Michigan are not reading proficiently. Michigan is among six states that have seen no improvement in that rate since 2003.

Jane Zehnder-Merrell is the project director for Kids Count Michigan. She says fourth grade is a pivotal age, since that’s where children stop learning to read and start reading to learn.

“If your reading skills are not up to par, you struggle to read.” says Zehnder-Merrell. “It becomes more and more difficult. You fall behind. And ultimately many kids drop out.”

Zehnder-Merrell says it’s important for the state of Michigan to invest in programs to mitigate the effects of childhood poverty. She says otherwise Michigan employers may have trouble finding enough skilled workers as the world economy becomes more competitive.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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