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December 16, 2011

Third grade is the critical year when it comes to academic success, according to Kids Count, the Advocates for Children of New Jersey. If a child is not reading proficiently by 3rd grade, according to Ceclia Zalkind, executive director of ACNJ, it will take them years to catch up. "Third grade is when children must start reading to learn, rather than learning to read. Without strong early literacy, their chances of school success drop dramatically." The children who are not proficient readers by the third grade are four more times likely than their peers to drop out of high school.

Overall, 60 percent of New Jersey's children can read proficiently by this critical year. But performance varies among counties and socioeconomic status. About 79 percent of children from high-income families meet the milestone, while only 43 percent low-income children do. According to Newark Kids Count, 38 percent of Newark's third graders attending traditional public schools read proficiently, while 44 percent of charter school students passed. Check online to see how kids in your county performed.

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