3rd Grade Reading Levels and Prison Populations

DebSF -- December 7th, 2008

Went down to C’ville Saturday to the State Democratic Party Central meetings.  Most of the candidates for the governors race were there. Terry Mcauliffe mentioned one thing, almost as an aside, that really turned some heads.  He was talking about education, and pre-K programs, and said that the state uses third grade reading competency scores as a way to predict the size of the prison population a decade later.  And that it’s a pretty good predictor.  Yow.

I’d been down in Richmond for VCCS meeting a couple of weeks before, and saw a presentation put together for the State Community College System by NCHEMS (National Council for Higher Education Management Systems), which had humongous amounts of interesting demographic data on education and economics for the state. Some of it was broken down regionally in order to define intra-state differences. Mcauliff’s comments on education got me thinking more about the NCHEMS presentation, and  I contacted them; in the process, I got NCHEMS full permission to use as much as the presentation on this site as we might find interesting.  So here are three to get you started:  comments?  What kinds of questions are raised here?  What factors generate the differences that are apparent? Click on the images to embiggen.


9 Responses to “3rd Grade Reading Levels and Prison Populations”

  1. Lowell says:

    I wonder about an overlay on the last chart you posted with red state/blue state presidential voting. Pretty clear correlation I think…
    Also, the same would seem to apply to the first two charts with regard to educational attainment. Interesting the localities which are red on both. I wonder (not so much) if that might be why the far right is so against an effective system of public ed?

    The correlation between reading level/ability by third grade with future prison population makes sense. Early intervention is always less costly than remediation… And I think prison qualifies as the final step in societal “remediation.”

  2. JGFitzgerald says:

    “The U.S. is just below average, half a standard deviation below a clump of relatively high-performing countries [in education]. [T]he U.S. could close that gap simply by replacing the bottom six per cent to ten per cent of public-school teachers with teachers of average quality.”

    Nah. Probably easier to train corrections officers.

  3. cc says:

    Education and indoctrination are not the same.

  4. David Miller says:

    I’d like to see all the money the ICE corp/facility is getting put into educating immigrant children instead.

  5. Deb SF says:

    I think a little more indoctrination in spelling, capitalization, punctuation and algebra is in order. This from someone in the middle of grading finals.

  6. JGFitzgerald says:

    Does someone need to point out here, or is it obvious, that when you test the third-graders and find some deficient, that would be a good time to spend the money on teaching them to read? Maybe that’s just more tax-and-spend socialist liberalism, but it seems to make good financial sense.

  7. Lowell says:

    Joe, Joe, Joe, you freakin’ communist! That would take all the fun out of being punitive and punishing the living $#!t out of, of, of, well it just spoils the whole fun of sanctimony, o.k.?
    Prevention? WTF?!!! We’d rather spend a pound on a painful and fruitless cure!
    You’re just not getting this whole Republican thing, are you?

  8. Barbara Chapman says:

    As a retired educator, I always knew that students who had not had success in elementary school would probably not graduate and would have many many discipline problems. I had not seen stats that supported this. When I saw the Democratic candidate for governor’s TV ad, I sought documentation. If the politicians know this why oh why don’t they make it a national focus to teach all children to read by grade 3? Many retired teachers and others would even volunteer to help a child if it was the focus of our nation. Could it be that some folk would rather see the kids go to prison? After all that is a money-making venture.

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