The Alliance for Excellent Education recently posted a policy brief entitled: Engineering Solution to the National Crisis in Literacy.
In part the document reads: The United States faces unprecedented challenges to its economic dominance. In order for the country to maintain its position at the top, dramatic improvements will be needed to improve the literacy skills of middle and high school students. The phenomenal expansion in information and knowledge is having a profound impact on the competencies young Americans need to gain entry into the modern global workplace. Post secondary success depends in the ability of graduates to read and comprehend challenging content and apply what they have read to solve problems.
Yet national and international test data show that secondary-level students in the United States lack these advanced literacy skills. Although students in grade four score among the best in the world, by grade ten, U.S. students place close to the bottom among developed nations.
Young adults who lack reading and writing proficiency likely will be relegated to the ranks of unskilled workers in a world where literacy is an absolute precondition for success. The consequences for the individual and the costs to the nation are staggering in terms of lost wages and earnings over a lifetime.
Estimates for dropouts, who typically have low literacy skills, are on the border of about $335 billion per year. For those you gain entry into the workplace, private industry spends an estimated $3.1 billion annually to bolster the literacy skills of entry-level workers.
What’s to Be Done?
While it is true that text complexity is on the rise… Over the past fifty years, the expectations for what students read in school and what they do with what they read have continued to decline. Many secondary schools have tended to reduce cognitive demands in courses because of the broad range of their students’ learning abilities and reading and writing skills.
In order to reverse this trend, we need to take a serious look at:
1) Ensuring that K-3 students are taught the reading strategies and decoding skills that they need to progress through more complex texts in higher grades
2) Giving ELL students the correct reading strategies that they need to equalize their opportunity to compete for college acceptance and skilled employment
3) Providing at-risk high school students effective reading remediation skills to reduce the number who choose to drop out of school
4) Insisting that ALL teachers be responsible for literacy. This can be accomplished by teaching teachers the reading skill, rules, and strategies needed for transference
5) Establishing a safety net of workplace literacy classes for entry-level employees
Only one program can address the reading needs of each of these core groups – Endorsed by the National Right to Read Foundation, the Reading Horizons online reading system uses multi-sensory, Orton-Gillingham principles of instruction that appeal to a student’s individual learning styles: visual, auditory, tactile, or kinesthetic.
Through direct instruction, logical sequencing, and multi-sensory techniques, Reading Horizons accomplishes the primary goal of phonics instruction: learning to decode and recognize words rapidly and automatically.
Take the tour and see for yourself >