The paragraphs below come from an article I wrote for the current issue of The American Prospect, which features a special report on reading by third grade. There are many worthwhile and thought-provoking articles in the issue, with contributions from E.D. Hirsch and Robert Pondiscio, Sara Mead, Cornelia Grumman and many more. Check it out.
When the latest scores of our country's national reading test arrived this spring, they were as depressing as usual: Two-thirds of American fourth-graders, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, cannot read at grade level. Among Hispanic and African American children, it's even higher.
Considering the consequences of growing up as a struggling reader, you might assume that the solution is to help children build better reading skills as soon as possible. Research shows that the earlier specialists intervene, the more likely children will surmount reading difficulties. Surely, early literacy instruction is a good solution. What could be controversial about that?