Fact File on Early and Independent Reading
Read below to find historical information on reading programs, statistics on illiterate children and struggling readers, facts about reading disabilities, and literacy and the No Child Left Behind Act.
- Reading textbooks produced in the United States during the 1800s combined alphabetic and phonic methods (e.g., the Webb Readers, Noah Webster's Blue Back Speller) (Putnam, 1995) .
- Basal readers, or controlled-vocabulary textbooks (e.g., "Look. Look. See the dog."), were introduced in the late 1940s. The most popular basal series was Fun with Dick and Jane, a basal that was supplemented with workbooks and other instructional materials and that was used in many schools well into the 1970s.
- Research on the eye movements of readers suggests that good readers look at almost every word and every letter in each word, yet the amount of time spent processing letters is very small-only a few hundredths of a second (P. M. Cunningham, 1996).
- Estimates of the percentage of children in the United States who cannot read vary considerably. Heath and Hogben (2004) report that in spite of having normal intelligence and adequate educational and socioeconomic opportunities, between 3 percent and 10 percent of school-age children fail to learn to read efficiently. The Children's Defense Fund (2004) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (2000) have reported that more than one-third of American fourth-graders cannot read and that more than two-thirds of all schoolchildren do not possess the skills necessary to reach a minimum level of reading proficiency.
- Even though scores for the highest-performing students in the United States have improved over time, those of the lowest-performing students have declined (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2000).
- Internationally, the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (2001) has indicated that during the early years, U.S. schoolchildren are near the top in reading achievement compared with students of other countries. Their performance slips significantly between fourth grade and high school, however, and by age 15, U.S. students are just average.
- The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2002 was a national initiative to improve the reading of kindergarten through third-grade students. The goals of the program, called "Reading First," were to (1) raise the caliber and quality of classroom instruction; (2) base instruction on scientifically proven methods; (3) provide professional training for educators in reading instruction; and (4) supply substantial resources ($900 million) to support the initiative. In order to receive funding, each state must provide evidence that students in grades 1 through 3 are meeting or exceeding the proficient level on state reading tests.
- In 2000, the National Reading Panel (NRP) (2000) conducted an extensive review of thousands of studies on reading. Their conclusion was that balanced approaches that combine literature with direct instruction in phonics are preferred for early reading instruction. Although the report has been criticized for its narrow focus on skills (National Research Council, 2002), federal funding is nonetheless tied to so-called evidence-based methods of reading instruction.
- Approximately 15 percent of the total population of the United States is dyslexic, meaning that they experience severe difficulties in learning to read (Hurford, 1998). The fact that a child is dyslexic, however, does not necessarily mean that he or she cannot use oral language capably (Cruger, 2005). Dyslexia is a problem with the mental processing of print, not with verbal communication or intelligence.
- According to Adams (1990), children are expected to recognize and understand more than 80,000 words by the end of third grade (at age 8 or 9).
- The consequences of reading failure are far reaching. They affect not only academic achievement and attainment but also social and emotional development of the individual and society at large (Heath & Hogben, 2004, p. 751).
- Reading print onscreen is a different experience from reading print on a hard copy, such as a book. Healy (1998) notes that reading from a screen often is slower, more fatiguing, less accurate, and more subject to information overload than getting the same information from a book.
- Reading independently and understanding what was read relies on verbal and visual/spatial working memory, each of which makes unique contributions to different aspects of comprehension (McInnes, Humphries, Hogg-Johnson, & Tannock, 2003).
- Even if children learn how to sound out words, it does not mean that they understand them. Children may show impressive gains in decoding skills without corresponding improvement in scores on passage comprehension tests (McCandliss, Isabel, Sandak, & Perfetti, 2003).
- Approximately 80 percent of learning disabilities result in reading and language difficulties (Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities, 1998).
© ______ 2007, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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