According to the 2019 NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) Report Card, 34% of 4th graders scored below a basic reading achievement level.
Students with reading deficits come from different backgrounds, but the narrative is the same no matter where they are from.
Many of these students struggle with reading from the start. They watch their peers become more advanced readers while their own reading skills stalled.
Eventually they lose confidence and self-esteem which leads to a negative self-image, sadness, shame, anxiety, and depression.
They experience embarrassment, social isolation and even bullying because the other kids think since they can’t read well, they aren’t smart.
They start to believe those kids were right because they have trouble with other subjects at school -- all of which require reading in order to learn and complete activities.
As a reading tutor, I routinely work with students who read 1 to 3 grade levels below their current grade level. While I would love to have these kids discover the joy of reading -- and some do! -- my goal is to get them up to grade level and prepare them for future reading expectations.
Without school intervention or tutoring, these students will not close the achievement gap.
In most cases the gap will widen as the complexity of reading materials increase and expectations become greater.
They are at risk of dropping out, becoming underemployed, or unemployed.
Everyday activities that so many of us take for granted such as reading street signs, menus at restaurants, food labels at grocery stores, registration forms at doctors’ offices, job applications...even reading articles like this one on the internet are major obstacles.
The solution is clear.
We must teach all children to read with instruction based upon scientific evidence so they will have a solid foundation to build upon. And as soon as reading deficits are identified they must be addressed.
Our society’s future depends on it.