End-of-year research brief: Literacy gains among K–3 students show some, but not enough, progress

mCLASS data from more than 300,000 students reinforces concerns over third grade reading

BROOKLYN, NY (July 20, 2023) — Today, Amplify, a publisher of next-generation curriculum and assessment programs, shared a research brief on national end-of-school-year (EOY) reading data for K–3 students. The data reveal that while schools across the country have made progress in reading scores among earlier elementary grades (K–2), gains among third graders remains comparatively slow.

According to newly released EOY data from the 2022–23 school year, students in grades K–2 demonstrated progress compared to the 2021–22 school years, with the greatest gains among Black and Hispanic students. At the same time, third graders exhibited the least improvement from two years ago and no improvement from the prior year’s third grade cohort. The slower improvements in grade 3 suggest a persistent impact on the cohort of students most affected by lost instructional time during the pandemic.

Learning to read by the end of third grade is an important indicator of future academic success. Susan Lambert, chief academic officer of elementary humanities at Amplify, says the data demonstrates how literacy rates in the United States remain a crisis today, with too many students urgently needing support. “We need to help this generation of young students get on track in reading,” Lambert says. “The struggles of students who fall behind will not go away on their own. The older these students become, the longer it will take them to catch up.”

Despite some progress, America still faces an early literacy crisis. To best support educators, Amplify recommends that schools and districts invest in reliable universal screeners, high-quality core curriculum aligned with the Science of Reading, evidence-based interventions, and ongoing professional development.

The report compares mCLASS® with DIBELS® 8th Edition benchmark data from the 2019–20, 2020–21, 2021–22, and 2022–23 school years. Approximately 300,000 students from a matched set of 1,400 schools across 43 states are represented from the 2 million students nationwide assessed with mCLASS. The schools in the source data are slightly more likely to be in large urban metropolitan areas than the nation overall.

The data was collected using the mCLASS platform, which automates the data collection of Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS). DIBELS is a widely-used series of short tests developed by the University of Oregon that assess K–8 literacy. It is an observational assessment collected by teachers interacting with students one-on-one, either live or over video. DIBELS is typically administered three times a year (beginning, middle, and end of year) and is used to identify reading difficulty, monitor progress, and inform instruction, especially for struggling readers.

About Amplify
A pioneer in K–12 education since 2000, Amplify is leading the way in next-generation curriculum and assessment. Our captivating core and supplemental programs in literacy, math, and science engage all students in rigorous learning and inspire them to think deeply, creatively, and for themselves. Our formative assessment products turn data into practical instructional support to help all students build a strong foundation in early reading and math. All of our programs provide teachers with powerful tools that help them understand and respond to the needs of every student. Today, Amplify reaches more than 10 million students in all 50 states. To learn more, visit amplify.com.

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Kristine Frech

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