Lansing — Eighty-one percent of Michigan’s low-income 4th graders and 69 percent of all students are not reading proficiently, according to the Kids Count report issued Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Officials with the foundation say proficiency is a key predictor of a student’s educational and economic success.
The report “Early Reading Proficiency in the United States” found Michigan is one of just six states that did not make progress in reading over the past decade. The report concludes that if the reading trend continues, the country will not have enough skilled workers for an increasingly competitive global economy by the end of this decade.
“With almost half of Michigan’s children living in low-income families, these are truly alarming findings,’’ said Jane Zehnder-Merrell, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “We’ve disinvested in education over the past decade, and we can connect the dots from the lack of spending to these stagnating reading scores.’’
Michigan’s spending on K-12 education dropped 20 percent, when adjusted for inflation, between 2003 and 2013, according to the foundation. During that period, reading proficiency stayed about the same in Michigan while improving in most other states, according to the report.
Nearly $1 billion in surplus state revenue was identified earlier this month — an opportunity to offer much-needed resources to Michigan schools, the foundation said.
“Reading is critical for all children,” said Ralph Smith, senior vice president of the Casey Foundation and managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “It is unacceptable to have a gap in reading proficiency rates between low-income and high-income children increase by nearly 20 percent over the last decade. We must do more to improve reading proficiency among all kids while focusing attention on children in lower-income families who face additional hurdles of attending schools that have high concentrations of kids living in poverty.”