Newly released Kids Count data shows that New Mexico is one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to student reading proficiency.
The report, released by the Annie E Casey Foundation, found 4 out of 5 low income students cannot read proficiently by the time they reach the fourth grade, while 3 out of 5 higher income students aren’t reading proficiently at that age. In addition, the ability gap between students from high and low income families has widened in the last ten years
Dr. Veronica Garcia is the Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children. She says such disparities can exacerbate poverty levels and contribute to larger economic issues in the state.
"If you’re not reading by that grade level, the likelihood of graduating from high school decreases significantly," Garcia explained. "If you do not graduate from high school, then your earning potential goes down. If we do not have a literate population, it makes it more difficult to attract high wage jobs."
Garcia says reading proficiency is a national problem, too. The report found two thirds of fourth grade students read below proficient levels nationally.