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According to new Kids Count data, fourth graders in West Virginia’s reading proficiency has worsened since 2003. Nationwide, the foundation finds that 80% of lower-income fourth graders and 66% of all kids are not reading proficiently – a key predictor of a student’s future educational and economic success. Here at home in West Virginia, 73% of all fourth graders are not reading proficiently, and the scores for low-income kids are even worse. 76% of low-income, West Virginia fourth graders are not proficient readers, compared to 63% of kids who are not low-income. In addition, West Virginia is one of only four states, including Alaska, Michigan and South Dakota, that have seen their fourth-grade reading proficiency scores worsen since 2003.

West Virginia’s educational system landed yet another blow when MSN recently named West Virginia as having the 4th worst schools in the nation, citing reasons such as the 23rd worst high school graduation rate at 74.7% and the 3rd lowest preschool enrollment rate at 35.5%. Over the past decade, West Virginia fourth and eighth grade students have become less proficient readers, with national test scores worsening by 4.5 percentage points and 2.2 percentage points, respectively — the worst declines in the nation.

With the adoption of new educational practices, goals and regulations, West Virginia is hoping to see a drastic turnaround in the future towards more positive recognition.