All children deserve to learn to read, and all teachers deserve the preparation and support that will allow them to help their students achieve this goal. Yet more than one-third of fourth graders—1.3 million children1 in the U.S.—cannot read at a basic level.2
Not learning how to read has lifelong consequences. Students who are not reading at grade level by the time they reach fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school,3 which in turn leads to additional challenges for them as adults: lower lifetime earnings,4 higher rates of unemployment,5and a higher likelihood of entering the criminal justice system.6 Even more alarming, the rate of students who cannot read proficiently by fourth grade climbs even higher for students of color, those with learning differences, and those who grow up in low-income households, perpetuating disparate life outcomes.7 This dismal data has nothing to do with the students and everything to do with inequities in access to effective literacy instruction.
The status quo is far from inevitable. In fact, we know the solution to this reading crisis, but we are not using the solution at scale. More than 50 years of research provides a clear picture of effective literacy instruction. These strategies and methods—collectively called scientifically based reading instruction, which is grounded in the science of reading—could dramatically reduce the rate of reading failure. Past estimates have found that while three in 10 children struggle to read (and that rate has grown higher since the pandemic), research indicates that more than 90% of all students could learn to read if they had access to teachers who employed scientifically based reading instruction.8
“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”
The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”
My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results
Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.
When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?