News reports this month lauded improvements in reading achievement but there has been very little improvement in the eleven years since 2002 as you can see in this graph from the NAEP website: http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2013/#/gains-percentiles
To access reading scores in place of mathematics scores, click on the bar just under the caption, “Are higher and lower performing students making gains?”
Here is their explanation of the terms, basic, proficient, and advanced:
Several years ago in the Introduction to Sound Bytes Reading, I wrote:
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 34 % of fourth graders in the USA read at only a basic level and another 34% read below a basic level. In eighth grade, 43 % read at a basic level and 27% read below a basic level. Our goal should be for all students to become proficient readers, yet 68% of fourth graders and 70% of eighth graders cannot read at a proficient level.
Recently the following statement about the 2013 Nation’s Report Card was made by the president of The Center for Education Reform, Kara Kerwin:
It’s a disgrace and truly incomprehensible that after decades of mediocrity, we celebrate today the fact that only 34 percent of our nation’s 8th graders can read at grade level and only 34 percent are proficient in math.
Other news sources made these statements:
While overall performance remains poor, this year’s report card does show improvement. Nationally, math scores were higher in 2013 than they have been since 1990 for both grades and for all student demographic groups. What’s more, the percentage of students who scored “advanced” on the tests was higher in 2013 than in any year since 1990.
The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress from the U.S. Department of Education shows that many high school seniors are graduating unable to read at grade level, and one in four cannot read at even the most basic level. Just 38 percent of 12th graders were proficient in reading.
In an EdWeek.com article, “NAEP Results Show Math Gains, But 4th Grade Reading Still Flat,” Erik Robelen wrote:
The nation’s 4th and 8th graders have inched up in mathematics, new test data show, but the results are more mixed in reading, with 4th grade scores flat compared with two years ago. Overall, achieving proficiency in reading and math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as “the nation’s report card,” remains an elusive goal for the majority of American students. Only about one-third reached that level or higher in reading.
The 2013 Nation’s Report Card can be seen here:
Have we really improved reading achievement? Not much. But we could improve a lot more if we followed the guidelines outlined in the April 2000 “Report of the National Reading Panel.” They outlined what a good reading program should include: Phonemic Awareness instruction, Systematic Phonics Instruction, Vocabulary Instruction, Guided Oral Reading, Independent Reading, Fluency Instruction, and Comprehension Instruction.
The components of a good reading program should not be taught in isolation. Children who are learning to read should be learning the sounds of the letters, decode words using those same letter-sounds, and read a story using the words they just learned. Make sure students know the meanings of new words before reading a story. If students can decode well, fluency will not be difficult. Check comprehension by asking questions about the story. Let’s follow good practice and improve reading instruction!