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Pandemic disruptions pushed kids' reading skills off track and widened racial gaps for K-2 literacy

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Students in primary grades didn’t have a normal introduction to reading because of COVID-19, and are now having to work harder to make up those losses.

Data also shows racial disparities in literacy outcomes are more prominent than pre-pandemic, and Black and Hispanic K-2 students are not making as strong of a comeback as white students.

Even before the pandemic, Texas lagged behind most other U.S. states for reading achievement, according the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

What factors impact kids' success when learning to read? How did the pandemic exacerbate literacy challenges, especially for at-risk students?

What do we know about kids' early reading skills pre-pandemic compared to now?

What factors into a child's success as they learn to read? What disparities exist when it comes to youth literacy?

What efforts are being made to improve reading instruction? How long will it take for students to see gains?

What more can be done to get kids back on track? How can parents help?


  • Deborah Valdez, EdD, executive director of San Antonio Youth Literacy
  • Kymyona Burk, EdD, senior policy fellow for early literacy at the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd)
  • Miah Daughtery, EdD, director of literacy at the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA)

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Monday, March 7.

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