Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR FILE

Rhode Island is joining a national effort to increase reading proficiency in elementary school. New state and national test scores show major achievement gaps.

According to the new PARCC standardized test, and another known as the Nation’s Report card, low-income fourth graders are about half as likely to be reading at grade level as their peers.

The new initiative, spearheaded by the education advocacy non-profit RI Kids Count and the United Way of Rhode Island, hopes to close that gap, by the third grade.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Island eighth graders inched upwards on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 2013. The standardized test of English and Mathematics, often called "the Nation's Report Card," is administered to groups of 4th and 8th graders around the country.

Rhode Island, like the country on average, has seen scores improve since the early 1990's. Overall, the state's students scored at or slightly above than the national average in 2013.