The opportunity gap begins with a literacy gap.
There are currently 6.6 million U.S. children from birth through age 8 who are on track for reading failure.
Reading is the foundation for educational success and opportunities in life, yet many children are not given the time and skills to build this foundation. Children without the necessary literacy skills can fall behind quickly, and the consequences last a lifetime.
Children in historically marginalized neighborhoods are more than four times less likely to enter Kindergarten with school-ready reading and language skills than their higher income peers.
Around third grade, the curriculum switches from focusing on learning to read to reading in order to learn. Children lacking strong basic reading skills are left behind by this transition.
Children who do not read on grade level by the end of third grade are four times less likely to graduate from high school on time.
Without a high school diploma, opportunities in life are dramatically reduced. People with low literacy levels have an unemployment rate that is two to four time higher the rest of the population.
Investing in early literacy is one of the most effective ways to help improve individual children’s outcomes while at the same time improving schools on the whole. Improving reading skills helps children access all other subjects and makes teachers’ core instruction more effective. Improving early literacy also improves students’ behavior and social emotional development since they can fully and confidently participate in school.
Investing in early literacy also has positive societal and economic effects. Studies show that every $1 invested in early childhood education provides a return of roughly $9, largely from increased earnings for children when they grow up.