Less than half of Utah’s third graders read at grade level

Aug 24, 2023, 9:00 PM

a classroom...

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah education officials say less than half of the state’s third graders are reading at grade level. 

Educators say third grade is a key time in a child’s development. They say it’s the time students begin reading to learn and move away from learning to read. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that only 48% of Utah third-graders read at grade level.

Celeste Gledhil, elementary curriculum coordinator for the Nebo School District, tells KSL NewsRadio that 71% of the third graders in her district are proficient.

She shares some insight on the success the Nebo School District is having.


“We’ve been focusing for quite a few years on the science of reading,” she said. “Knowing how students learn to read and pinpointing where their difficulties are. And then we’ve implemented coaching for the classroom teachers.”

Gledhil also adds as a follow-up, the district has implemented an intervention program for students who aren’t quite up to par. 

Gledhil is asked to go into more detail about the coaching aspect.

“We have coaches in our schools; we have intervention coaches,” she said. “We have literacy coaches. And they work hand-in-hand with the teacher, where it’s another set of eyes to see how instruction is going in the classroom. And to help the teacher set goals and work towards that improvement that they want in their classroom.”

Funding to help third graders

Where does the funding come from for these coaches?

“We get some funding from the state, and then we supplement it with district funding,” Gledhil said. “It’s just how we allocate those funds for each district.”

Gledhil says the district makes do with what funding it does have.

“Is there enough?” she asked. “No, because we would love to have even more than what we have now.”

She says the state funds the district through grants, and then the district funds each school accordingly.

Gledhil says third graders should be reading simple chapter books and informational texts.

“So, they can read about topics in science and social studies and things like that,” she said.

Read more: 

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Less than half of Utah’s third graders read at grade level