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Third-Grade Accomplishments

The Committee for the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children has compiled detailed lists of literacy accomplishments for children of different ages. Find out what the typical child can do in third grade.

Below is a set of accomplishments that the successful learner is likely to exhibit. This list is neither exhaustive nor incontestable, but it does capture many highlights of the course of literacy acquisition that have been revealed through several decades of research. The timing of these accomplishments will to some extent depend on maturational and experiential differences between children, and upon the particular curriculum provided by a school.

  • Reads aloud with fluency and comprehension any text that is appropriately designed for grade level.
  • Uses letter-sound correspondence knowledge and structural analysis to decode words.
  • Reads and comprehends both fiction and nonfiction that is appropriately designed for grade level.
  • Reads longer fictional selections and chapter books independently.
  • Takes part in creative responses to texts such as dramatizations, oral presentations, fantasy play, etc.
  • Can point to or clearly identify specific words or wordings that are causing comprehension difficulties.
  • Summarizes major points from fiction and nonfiction texts.
  • In interpreting fiction, discusses underlying theme or message.
  • Asks how, why, and what-if questions in interpreting nonfiction texts.
  • In interpreting nonfiction, distinguishes cause and effect, fact and opinion, main idea and supporting details.
  • Uses information and reasoning to examine bases of hypotheses and opinions.
  • Infers word meanings from taught roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
  • Correctly spells previously studied words and spelling patterns in own writing.
  • Begins to incorporate literacy words and language patterns in own writing (e.g., elaborates descriptions, uses figurative wording).
  • With some guidance, uses all aspects of the writing process in producing own compositions and reports.
  • Combines information from multiple sources in writing reports.
  • With assistance, suggests and implements editing and revision to clarify and refine own writing.
  • Presents and discusses own writing with other students and responds helpfully to other students' compositions.
  • Independently reviews work for spelling, mechanics, and presentation.
  • Produces a variety of written works (e.g., literature responses, reports, "published" books, semantic maps) in a variety of formats, including multimedia forms.


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Excerpted from: Snow, C. E., Burns, S. M., & Griffin, P. Editors. (1998). Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences. Courtesy of National Academy Press. Reprinted with permission.

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