“I will get teared up because I think I can’t read,” fourth grader Raven said.

Arthur Jones II, Tal Axelrod, and Jay O’Brien

Learning to read isn’t fair.

It comes naturally for some students. But for others it’s a frustrating, agonizing process that, if left unaddressed, can cause long-standing academic problems.

Ask D’Mekeus Cook Jr., a fourth grader from Louisiana, who was reading at a kindergarten level when he started second grade two years ago. Or Journey, another fourth grader from Ohio, who said when she comes across an unfamiliar word it makes her feel “sad.” They have both struggled to read — and they’re not alone.

A combination of under-funded schools, educator shortages, inadequate teacher preparation and months of lost learning due to pandemic school closures have caused a resurgence of concern about kids’ reading ability. But Department of Education data reviewed by ABC News show this reading problem has persisted in America for decades.

According to the Education Department’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as “The Nation’s Report Card,” roughly one-third of American fourth graders read at or below what’s considered the basic level. This has been the case since 1992.

Scores slightly increase as students get older, but not by much. In eighth grade, about one-fourth of students do not read at what’s considered the basic achievement level. That percentage stays about the same for high schoolers.

“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 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

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?