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South Dakota KIDS COUNT issues new fourth grade reading proficiency report

Shows decline with low income kids lagging behind their peers

VERMILLION, S.D. -- A new report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that South Dakota’s fourth grade students have declined in reading scores. “That’s not good news,” says Carole Cochran, Director for South Dakota KIDS COUNT, “particularly as this is coupled with data showing children in lower income families testing below their peers and that gap is widening.” In South Dakota, test scores for all students show a slight decline, with 68 percent of students reading below proficient in 2013 compared to 67 percent in 2003. South Dakota is one of four states showing this decline.

The report looks at recent test scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) at the National Center for Educational Statistics. NAEP assessments are administered uniformly using the same sets of test booklets across the nation, and the state results are based on public school students only. The NAEP rates a student’s test scores in three categories: Basic, Proficient and Advanced.

NAEP scores are also broken down by those eligible for free and reduced school lunch (low income) and those who are not (higher income). Results in South Dakota show that reading proficiency decreased for the low income students and improved slightly for the higher income students from 2003 to 2013. The gap between low and high income students, already pronounced, increased to 20 percent between 2003 and 2013 (See the chart below).

Percent of South Dakota Fourth Graders Reading below Proficient Levels


All Students


Low Income Students


Higher Income Students

Percent Change in Gap

2003 - 2013
















Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News