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Third Grade Language Arts Proficiency

Third grade language arts proficiency has decreased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic

Third grade English language arts (ELA) proficiency is the earliest standardized test given to all public school students in Nebraska.2 Third grade ELA proficiency measures student achievement at a critical transition point in their educational careers.13 Students who do not read proficiently in third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma,14 while third graders who read at or above their level are more likely to graduate and attend college.13

  • Since the Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS) was first administered in 2016, a higher proportion of Lincoln Public School (LPS) third graders are ELA proficient compared to Nebraska public school third graders statewide.
  • In the 2020-21 school year, third grade ELA proficiency among LPS students was 55%, compared to 50% of Nebraska public school students statewide.
  • Third grade ELA proficiency among LPS students decreased 8 percentage points since 2018, when the previous NSCAS was administered.

2.  The Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS) is the statewide assessment system for English language arts (ELA), mathematics, and science that public schools have administered since the 2016-17 school year. It is not comparable to the older NeSA (Nebraska State Accountability) assessment. The ELA and mathematics NSCAS test administered in Spring 2021 was shortened to preserve instructional time due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Non-participants were also not representative of the whole population. These factors, in addition to changes in enrollment and differences in NSCAS participation rates, complicates direct comparisons to previous NSCAS data.

13.  Lesnick, J., Goerge, R. M., Smithgall, C., & Gwynne, J. (2010). Reading on grade level in third grade: How is it related to high school performance and college enrollment? Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. https://www.chapinhall.org/wp-content/uploads/Reading_on_Grade_Level_111710.pdf

14.  Fiester, L. (2013). Early warning confirmed: A research update on third-grade reading. Annie E. Casey Foundation. https://assets.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/AECF-EarlyWarningConfirmed-2013.pdf