Startling Statistics

In Lesson 2 reading was defined as "…an active and complex process of constructing meaning from written text in relation to the readers' experiences, knowledge, motivation, and the context of the reading situation."

Educators and research support the idea that a portion of our students today become less proficient readers as they progress through school. In 1998, the US Department of Education was directed to assess the literacy skills of American adults. This landmark study, the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS), (Murray, Kirsch, & Jenkins), profiled adult American literacy skills by conducting approximately 26,000 interviews and categorizing its findings into literacy scales: prose literacy proficient, document literacy proficient, and quantitative literacy proficient. These were reported in a literacy continuum of levels of skills (Level 5, the highest; to Level 1, the lowest). NALS found a total of 21-23 percent of the 191 million American adults to be at Level 1. All adults scoring at Level 1 displayed difficulty using certain reading, writing and computational skills necessary for functioning in everyday life.

A 1992 study, looking at an international comparison of reading achievement, ranked American 4th graders' reading achievement at second in the world. The same study placed American 9th grade students reading achievement at ninth in the world. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) thirty year history (1970-1999) of the reading proficiency of American students revealed that during this time period, 4th grade scores rose, then declined, and rose again in the 1990's.

readingtochildren.jpeg NAEP's national report card on 4th grade reading (2000), issued a report which looks at the educational progress of students in grades 4, 8, and 12 and provides three achievement levels: Basic, Proficient, and Advanced. In 2000, NAEP cited that 63 % of the fourth graders scored at or above basic level; 32 % scored at or above proficient level; 8 % scored at the advanced level.

Your task, as a teacher, is to provide the experiences that will teach these reading processes to all readers, all students. Realizing that the typical expectation for older students is that they have mastered Chall's Stages 2 and 3 of reading development, teachers must provide the learning environment and practice that fills the gaps in the reading behavior of many struggling intermediate, middle and secondary students as they read, or attempt to read, and gain information from written assignments.

Do This

What is it like to be a struggling reader? The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) series, Misunderstood Minds, on its companion website, offers two simulations. Go to Basics of Reading and then scroll down to the two hands-on "TRY IT YOURSELF" activities.

Try This:

Are you confident with the material you've learned? review what you just learned with this Cloze activity.