The Fourth Grade Slump

 Excerpted from Differentiated Reading Instruction in Grades 4 and 5: Strategies and Resources

by Sharon Walpole, PhD, Michael C. McKenna, PhD, and Zoi A. Philippakos, PhD © 2011 The Guilford Press


Fourth grade is often students' first real experience with the content-area textbooks that will dominate much of their subsequent adolescent literacy experience. Fourth grade is also the first time students are tested with the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and the results are sobering. Only 67% of fourth graders performed above the basic level in 2009; only 33% performed above the proficient level. Thirty-three percent of fourth-grade students were below the basic level. NAEP does not test at the early grades, but conventional wisdom leads many to speculate that a sizable number of children whose performance appeared to be adequate through grade three begin to dip in grade four. The focus of this issue of NASET’sPractical Teacher is to address this trend, the fourth-grade slump.

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