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Tri state students fall behind on reading skills

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Students in WV, OH and KY fell behind national average in reading skills Students in WV, OH and KY fell behind national average in reading skills

West Virginia ranks last in the tri-state region, and 40th in America when graded on reading proficiency at a crucial time in a student's education.

The education watchdog group, West Virginia Kids First, released a study on Tuesday that says 73% of West Virginia students are not proficient readers by the time they finish the third grade.

The national average is 68%.

The director of West Virginia Kids First says there are many reasons for West Virginia's struggles in elementary education, such as poverty, a mother's education level, and lack of quality pre-school programs.

She says children that are behind in their reading at the end of third grade, are much less likely to further their education.

The group suggests creating programs for children from birth until third grade, and enabling parents to play a larger role in their children's educations.

In Ohio, where 66 percent of fourth graders are behind on reading, parents and family are the centerpiece of a plan that is already in place.

Deidre Travis, the literacy coordinator at Rock Hill Elementary School, says teachers here have goal for subjects, but also relationships.

"One is a reading target. One is a math target," says Ms. Travis. "And a parent communication target."

Communication between teachers and parents is not an extra-curricular activity in Ohio.

It is a state requirement.

"We send notes home. We make phone calls. Our teachers track those and turn them in quarterly," says Ms. Travis. "It is a vital piece that are parents are informed about how their children are doing, and how to help their children at home."

In Kentucky, where the magic number is 65%, Ashland Family Resource Center Coordinator, Geri Willis, says several school systems now offer special classes.

"At the end of the six sessions, they can graduate with a certificate," says Ms. Willis.

The graduation and certificate is for the parents that complete this new, cutting-edge program.

"Born Learning" is a course for guardians to learn how to make everyday experiences into learning experiences.

Governor Steve Beshear is phasing in the research-based program that targets families.

Through corporate sponsorships, the program has reached 20 school systems in the second year the commonwealth has used it.

Ms. Willis says any strategy to improve reading and education on a large scale, must involve families.

"I see parental involvement, parental engagement, as probably the most important factor in students' success."

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