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The source of the national statistics: National Center for Education Statistics and the Campaign for Grade Level Reading

The Gap

The proficiency gap is the term that describes the difference in performance between the highest and lowest performing students.


Currently, 28% Black and 25% Hispanic 4th graders are proficient in reading compared to 46% of their White counterparts.

YES: Backed by Research

Four decades of literacy research define the reason this challenge exist however the gap is still present.

Reason 1: Lack of conversation and reading interactions young children enjoy at home with their caregivers—especially conversation and hearing stories read aloud—play a significant role in academic success and beyond.

Children who are read aloud to at home develop a:

  • Stronger vocabulary

  • More background knowledge of content

  • Better expressive and receptive language abilities

  • Stronger phonological (sound structure) awareness

  • Skills for early literacy

Reason 2: Families’ in a lower socioeconomic status have access to fewer books and other reading materials compared to others who are not.


Typically, the communities in which they live have fewer books in the classroom, school, and public library. If their neighborhood even has a public library, they are likely to encounter reduced hours and limited funding for replenishing and updating the collection.

Neuman, Susan and Celano, Donna (2001 and 2006) "The Knowledge Gap: Implications of Leveling the Playing Field for Low-Income and Middle-Income Children," Reading Research Quarterly: Vol. 36 : No. 1 (Jan - Mar 2001) pp 8-26 and Vol. 4(2) 176-201

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