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Reading is THE foundational skill for all future learning, and being able to read by the end of third grade is a crucial milestone in a child’s future academic success. Research shows that a child’s third grade reading level is a pretty strong predictor of how well a student performs in high school, whether or not they graduate, and if they go on to college.

Here’s another fact to consider. Many companies in the United States are having a really hard time finding qualified employees, and this is a problem that will become bigger and bigger as the economy grows.

How are these things connected? Well, research shows that reading is one of the most commonly and intensively used skills among all types of jobs across the U.S., even those jobs that don’t require training or education after high school.

There is promising news in Arizona, however. Data from the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show Arizona’s results ticked up slightly while many other states saw scores decline. NAEP reading and math tests are administered every other year and results focus on trends in data over time, as opposed to a snapshot from any one year. Compared to 2013 scores, Arizona students improved in 4th and 8th grade reading.