Monday, August 13, 2012

Reading-Research Monday: The Current State of Reading in America


According to the Center on Education Policy's AYP Results for 2010-2011 - May 2012 Update, 49% of all public schools did not meet adequate yearly progress on state testing.  The No Child Left Behind Law and the subsequent national high-stakes testing that was ushered in under it is cause for much debate.  However, whether you are pro or anti NCLB, that fact that nearly half of the nation's public schools are not meeting standard should at least make educators pause to reflect.
Source: Center for Education Policy (AP)

In 24 states and in the District of Columbia, 50% or more of their schools did not make AYP in 2011.  This is twice as many as in 2010.  The state of Florida brings in the most disappointing statistic with 89% of its schools not making AYP.   

The fact that these schools did not make AYP is not necessarily due to poor reading scores.  Low scores in mathematics, reading, or a combination of both caused these schools to drop below what is acceptable student progress.  However, when examining long term data, trends in students' reading abilities can be seen.

Findings for Reading

From The Nation's Report Card, the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress shows that fourth grade average reading scores have stayed the same for the last four years of testing data.  Since 2007, fourth grade scores have stayed constant and had an overall improvement of two points since 2002.  With regard to eighth grade reading score averages, the trend shows nudging up or down a point each testing year and only rising one point overall from 2002 to 2011.

The NAEP also examined trends in reading instruction.  Classroom time spent on language arts in fourth grade has stayed roughly the same between 2005 and 2011, with the majority of students receiving at least seven hours of instruction each week.  By eighth grade this time dropped to the majority of students receiving 3-6.9 hours of language arts instruction each week.

Statistics for fourth grade also showed a slight increase in the number of pages a student reads in class or for homework each day.  However, 20% of fourth grades read 5 or fewer pages for school each day.  This increases to 28% when looking at eighth grade statistics.  Percentages for how often students read for fun stayed similar within their grade levels over the 2005-2011 statistics.  However, 46% of fourth graders reported reading for fun almost every day while only 19% of eighth graders reported the same.  


Fewer and fewer schools are meeting adequate yearly progress for both math and reading related reasons.  Over the past decade, reading test scores for fourth and eighth grade students have shown little to no improvement.  Few if any gains have been seen in the number of pages students read for school related activities or for pleasure.  Additionally, students are less likely to read for fun as they age and less instructional time is devoted to language arts in higher grade levels.

With these dwindling opportunities to read, write, and interact with specific literacy activities and strategies in academic or personal settings, it is no wonder students' scores are not improving.

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