Reading Level Index (RLI)

The Reading Level Index (RLI) is simply the percentage of 4th graders who are reading at grade level. The report Early Warning: Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, provides an “eye opening” explanation of why students who are not reading at grade level in 4th grade are likely to struggle in school and life. The study confirms that students learn to read by third grade and read to learn after that. If they are not reading at grade level in 4th grade they are more likely to drop out of school and experience financial poverty.

The Casey report and other similar studies indicate that the assessment of 4th grade reading levels is a powerful measure because it is not only an early indicator of student academic performance through high school, it is an accurate predictor of future graduation rates, crime rates, unemployment levels and financial poverty. Our disturbing findings on the percentage of students who were “Proficient” or “Advanced Proficient” in reading, based on the 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scores, are listed below.

We list below the 2014 RLI for some well known cities. In the listing, the percentage of 4th graders reading at or above grade level is the first percentage. The percentage....

Reading Level Index (Percentage of 4th Grade Students Reading Below Grade Level)

  • Atlanta – 27% (Reading Level Crisis: 73%)
  • Baltimore – 14% (Reading Level Crisis: 86%)
  • Boston – 26% (Reading Level Crisis: 74%)
  • Chicago – 21% (Reading Level Crisis: 79%)
  • Cleveland – 9% (Reading Level Crisis: 91%)
  • Dallas – 16% (Reading Level Crisis: 84%)
  • Detroit – 8% (Reading Level Crisis: 92%)
  • Houston – 20% (Reading Level Crisis: 80%)
  • Los Angeles – 18% (Reading Level Crisis: 82%)
  • Miami-Dade County – 35% (Reading Level Crisis: 65%)
  • New York City – 28% (Reading Level Crisis: 72%)
  • Philadelphia – 15% (Reading Level Crisis: 85%)

In an extraordinarily wealthy country, with the most respected higher education system ever developed, it is tragic that more than 60% of the 4th graders in every major US city do not read at grade level. Incredibly, in many of these cities, more than 80% of the 4th graders do not read at grade level. We believe that once the general public is aware of the realities of LWI and RLI they will influence leaders to make policies that increase these measures their top priority. It is clear that improving the LWI and RLI in every city in America should be at the top of every politician’s agenda.

Living Wage Index (LWI)
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