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Join the discussion: More than half of Mass. third graders can’t read proficiently. The state is failing its neediest learners.

LOWELL — Rosalinda wants to be an astronaut when she grows up. Every time she says it, her mother, Maritza Alvarado, feels a gust of pride in her chest — and then a twist of dread in her gut. Rosalinda, who is 10 years old, is reading well below grade level.

Alvarado doesn’t know what to do. She is a chef and a single mother; for her daughter, she wants a future of boundless possibility. The teachers at school have said not to worry, Rosalinda, a fifth-grader, doesn’t have a learning disability. But her report card for reading said “2″ — “partially meets expectations” — all last school year, same as the year before.


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Mandy McLaren can be reached at Follow her @mandy_mclaren. Naomi Martin can be reached at