reading student

Students enter 4th grade proficient in reading.

Third grade marks a critical point in a child's education. It's the time when students shift from learning to read and begin reading to learn.

The research tells us that one in six children who are not reading proficiently in 3rd grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers. Poverty only compounds the problem. Children who are not reading proficiently at 3rd grade and who have lived in poverty are three times more likely to drop out or fail to graduate than those who have never been poor. (Double Jeopardy, Annie E. Casey Foundation 2012)

To ensure that these youngsters have the opportunity for a bright future, we need to focus our attention and efforts at this critical juncture.


  • The South Dakota Birth to Three Early Intervention Program serves children from birth to 36 months with developmental delays or disabilities and their families. Through the new federally required State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP), Birth to Three is incorporating early learning (including literacy) into the intervention program which is intended to help children reach their best potential and better prepare them for future learning opportunities.

  • The Department of Education is also in the process of revising the early learning guidelines that summarize important skills and knowledge for all children to attain by the time they enter the K-12 system. These guidelines can be used by preschool teachers, childcare providers, parents and others to provide children with meaningful play opportunities and experiences.

  • South Dakota‚Äôs instructional literacy coaching program began in 2014-15 focusing on providing supports to school districts with struggling readers. A component of the program is to provide training on foundational reading skills to K-3 teachers. In summer 2016, the in-person foundational reading training was expanded and opened to all school districts.

  • The department coordinates a reading initiative to bolster student reading achievement year-round. Read! SD seeks to raise awareness of the summer reading loss epidemic, share compelling research on the importance of personalized reading activities, and provide access to a variety of free resources to support targeted reading.

  • The department also provides support to schools that choose to implement multi-tiered systems of support.


For additional information, contact the South Dakota Department of Education
at (605) 773-3134.