Time and time again articles in media highlight that a high percentage of minority students do not excel in college entrance exams and are not prepared for college. We read that the high school drop out rates are high. What is seldom discussed are the reasons for this issue. There are several reasons for students under-performing in schools but there is one primary reason for student failure.
Parents go to the scheduled parent-teacher meeting night and get about ten minute update on their child. Once they end the session, parents walk out holding a file with charts, graphs, and a list of the what the student has covered and areas of strengths and weaknesses in the subject matter. All good and needed, but are the parents absolutely clear on the most critical item that matters the most?
Can their child read at or above their current grade level?
Students will be receiving grade level books each year. In 5th grade, they will get books written for 5th graders. The following year once again they get 6th grade reading books and thus continue this process through each school year.
Thus, children who are reading below their current grade level are challenged and frustrating themselves each hour trying to work with books and materials they cannot understand. Each hour they get to study a different subject but keep getting books at grade level.
Parents may be surprised that their child's teacher many not be able to answer the question as to what grade level the child is reading and comprehending. It is not a matter that they don't want to know but rather they are not given the needed support to actually find out. The tests to diagnose are expensive and take a great deal of time to do them on a one-on-one basis.
Even when schools do test and determine the reading level of the children, not much is done thereafter to insure that they get the individualized attention needed to strengthen and raise their reading levels.
It is not uncommon to find classrooms with 32 students and more than half of the students are reading two, three or more years behind that given grade. The teacher find themselves required to use teaching material and books only for that current grade level. What makes matters worst is that the required district and state tests assume that the student can read them at their current grade level.
The academic industry can continue to spend billions each year on new programs but until it insures that students are reading at and above the grade level that they are in, we -- schools and parents -- set our children up for continual failure.
Reading at, or even better, above grade level, is critical to the academic success of children.