PERRY Co., Ky. (WYMT) - Recent information from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) suggests more than half of kids in Kentucky fail to read at a proficient level.
"Early Reading Proficiency in the United States," is the name of the new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Kentucky Youth Advocates Executive Director Terry Brooks said it is easy to blame educators, but there are several pieces to the puzzle that demand our attention.
Hazard High School teacher and ACT Coach Luke Glaser said he could not agree more.
"There's that old adage that it takes a village and I never really realized how true that was until I started teaching," said Glaser.
Learning how to read proficiently is a struggle for many Kentucky students.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress's information shows nearly two thirds of rising fourth graders in our state are not reading at grade level.
"That fourth grade reading score is such a pivot point," said Terry Brooks. "It's such a temperature gauge on how that kid is probably going to do for the rest of their academic career."
Terry Brooks said we are one of only a dozen states with a widening reading proficiency gap between high and low income families.
"Are kids going to graduate from high school," asked Brooks. "Are they going to graduate from high school ready to earn and learn as adults?"
Educators acknowledge this issue cannot be solved by Kentucky Youth Advocates or schools alone.
"The good news is that we are keeping pace nationally," Brooks said. "The bad new is that the national numbers are not very good."
The report serves as a reminder, Brooks added, that we must invest in early childhood education.
"I think that we all share in victories when our students have them and we all need to look at the points that we can grow in and do better," said Glaser.