Less than half of Louisiana K-3 students reading at or above grade level

State education official says numbers show upward trajectory

By: - January 19, 2022 6:00 am

A child reads a book in a library. (Getty Images)

Reading skills for more than half of Louisiana’s kindergarten through third-grade students were below grade level last fall, according to a Louisiana Department of Education report.

On the upside, data shared Tuesday at a Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting also showed more students reached grade-level status or above as they advanced each year.     

BESE members expressed concern after hearing the findings of the fall reading report from Jenna Chaisson, assistant state education superintendent.


“We are in the 21st century in the United States of America, and 49% of students are reading on grade level,” BESE District 6 representative Ronnie Morris said. “To me, it is unfathomable.”


Chiasson said state education officials are “really excited” based on results because 2021 was the first year since 2017 that student reading levels showed an upward trajectory.

“But we have to acknowledge that we have a long way to go,” Chaisson said.

Louisiana is on pace to increase fourth-grade student reading levels 10% by 2027, Chiasson said. That would place Louisiana above the national average for reading literacy with a rank in the high-20s, she added.

During last year’s session, the Louisiana Legislature approved several laws to address early literacy problems. For example, Act 438 created an early literacy program for kindergarten through third-grade students, including those in special education. It also targets students who are reading below grade level.

The legislation “is really driving a good bit of our literacy improvement,” Chiasson said.


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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is an award-winning journalist at The Louisiana Illuminator. Canicosa has previous experience at Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.