What’s Up (or Down) with Literacy in New Jersey?

The drop in reading scores of US children post-COVID dominated the headlines in Summer 2023 – with reading scores down in nearly every state. In this episode of Jersey Gives a Damn, we seek to understand why.

“Dire,” “jarring,” and “ominous” is how one report talks about reading proficiency in New Jersey. Only a little more than 40 percent of New Jersey third graders are reading at or above proficiency. In Newark, fewer than 20 percent or third graders are proficient. In Camden, it’s fewer than 7 percent. And African American, Hispanic and children from economically disadvantaged families experience particularly low proficiency on average.

In this episode, we unpack what’s driving these low reading levels, what the impacts are, and ways to address it. Paula White joins the pod. She is Executive Director of JerseyCAN, a leading educational and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all New Jersey families have access to high-quality schools. Central to their mission is making sure that students get continuous support with appropriate resources and excellent teaching, regardless of their zip code, cultural background, or socioeconomic status.

Listen now: