Students in Virginia and Maryland performed slightly better than the national average on the reading portion of national tests in 2009, a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows. Still, 62% of Virginia fourth-graders and 63% of Maryland fourth-graders scored below proficient on the exams -- compared with the national average of 68%. The report links literacy levels in the fourth grade with the likelihood that students will graduate from high school and go on to lucrative careers.

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