Fifty percent of unemployed youth ages 16-21 are functionally illiterate with no prospects of obtaining good jobs, according to U.S. government researchers.
That is a scary statistic to consider. Teachers of every grade level are striving to educate children so that they become adults with satisfying careers.
But current statistics provide a sobering view of reading and literacy skills for children and adolescents in the United States. Educators have a uphill battle to increase literacy and raise the level of basic reading skills for all students.
Organizations such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) continually review reading and literacy skills in students in the U.S. and compare them to students in other countries.
In positive results, the United States ranks second behind Finland in fourth-grade students (9 years of age) who score well in reading comprehension, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In 2000, these students expressed that they read for fun, with 87 percent taking the initiative to read on their own at least once a month.
However, more than 37 percent of fourth-graders are not reading at the basic level in their grade, and 26 percent of eighth-graders are not reading at their basic level. The Family Literacy Centers also predicts that if a child is not proficiently reading by the fourth grade, he or she will have a 78 percent chance of not catching up with classmates.
Statistics also show that 60 to 70 percent of Caucasian students score at or above the national mean, while only 25 to 40 percent of African American students and 35 to 50 percent of Hispanic students score at or above this same level.
To have well-educated adults who read at a high level, students must begin building reading skills at an early age. Literacy programs have been introduced to bring student reading levels up to basic and on to exceptional. The following literacy programs have been successful in helping students and teachers reach this goal, according to the Institution of Education Sciences’ What Works Clearinghouse.
Students who aren’t interested in reading have a hard time achieving good grades. Therefore, it’s crucial for educators to find ways to engage students with reading and other literacy activities. Engagement strategies from the Literacy, Families and Learning blog include:
Practicing these engagement techniques allows children to enjoy reading and can help them become them avid readers with exceptional literacy skills. As the statistics show, good readers have a much better chance of success in the adult world.