Three Troubling Reading Statistics… And What We Can Do About Them

1. The Home-School Relationship

“The substantial relationship between parent involvement for the school and reading comprehension levels of fourth-grade classrooms is obvious, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Where parent involvement is low, the classroom mean average (reading score) is 46 points below the national average. Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average – a gap of 74 points.” reference

Solution: Start a PT Camp (Parent-Teacher Camp).

Joe Mazza, one of the leaders of the ParentCamp experience, describes it as “a hybrid unconference opportunity for parents and teachers to come together and levels the playing field, putting all stakeholders in a circle for actual, face-to-face discussion about what is best for kids. Its model comes from the four core beliefs highlighted in Beyond the Bakesale by Anne T. Henderson.” Those four pillars are:

  • Core Belief 1: All Parents Have Dreams for Their Children and Want the Best for Them
  • Core Belief 2: All Parents Have the Capacity to Support Their Children’s Learning
  • Core Belief 3: Parents and School Staff Should Be Equal Partners
  • Core Belief 4: The Responsibility for Building Partnerships Between School and Home Rests Primarily with School Staff, Especially School Leaders

You can use a PT Camp to begin a book club with teachers and parents alike. Better yet, invite the students along as well, reinforcing the importance of reading by all — at school, at home or anywhere . A good book to begin with is The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child.

2. Income and Reading

“Sixty six percent of all U.S. fourth graders scored “below proficient” on the 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) reading test, meaning that they are not reading at grade level.  Even more alarming is the fact that among students from low-income backgrounds, 80 percent score below grade level in reading.” reference

Solution: Use free technology to enable students to be more than readers, they can be producers

Books no longer have to be about worksheets, study guides, and graphic organizers. Students can use free platforms — Edublogs or YouTube — to critically review the books they read. This taking the reading experience from the page and adds a maker-mentality to the experience, turning it into something they can produce, share and be proud of. Extroverts that love the camera can create their own YouTube channel, introverts can use blogs to give voice to their ideas. No matter the platform, students can create their own space to make references the text, make evaluations about the characters and themes, and draw connections across texts in creative and highly individualized ways.

Check this out: how I started a reading revolution by flipping my class with blogs.

Check this out:

3. Reading and a Child’s Future

“2/3 of the students that can not read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will either end up in jail or on welfare.” reference

Solution: Rather than play defense, go on offense

From the earliest age, honor reading by making it a special experience. Create a comfortable classroom reading corner with plush chairs, stock a classroom library with student-recommended titles, allow choice as much as possible to nurture a love of words, stories, and the imaginative possibilities to escape that books provide.

Here are two classrooms that do it right:

cozy, comfy, plush area for students to read

organized books, comfy chairs

One thought on “Three Troubling Reading Statistics… And What We Can Do About Them

  1. Brian,

    I especially appreciate your second solution–connected book reviews. One of the principles I began following in my classes last year was that I should teach students to fulfill certain purposes (narrating, arguing, explaining, etc.) but allow them to experiment with the medium (writing, audio, video). This caused a huge positive shift in engagement.

    Thanks for the great article!

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