Study: First-graders have improved reading skills

Credit: Luca Teuchmann

Credit: Luca Teuchmann

First-graders have “significantly better reading skills” now than they did more than a decade ago, according to researchers.

A 12-year study, conducted by Ohio State University, determined that students that began first grade in 2013 are learning in kindergarten what was taught in first grade in 2001, USA Today reported.

"Children are better prepared when they enter first grade than they used to be," Emily Rodgers, a professor of teaching at Ohio State University and study co-author, told USA Today. "Kindergarten is the new first grade when it comes to learning reading skills."

The study, conducted by Rodgers and Jerome D’Agostino, canvassed hundreds of thousands of new first-graders from schools in 44 states, testing them on basic and advanced literary skills. Test scores showed marked improvement, with low-performing students showing more skill in letter identification, word recognition, print awareness and identifying and using sounds, USA Today reported.

The authors said the improved reading could be traced to a pair of reports during the 2000s advocating changes in reading instruction, as well as former President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind law, an act that promoted skills tied to reading in preschool and elementary school, USA Today reported.