George Lucas Educational Foundation

Reading Should Be Required K-12

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I have found that a great deal of America's school districts stop teaching a reading course after elementary school. This is true in my school district and after examining the benchmark scores it shows. We just acquired a new principal and he has joined me in trying to set up a reading course for students in our high school. Many of our students struggle with reading which is reflected in all of their subject areas. I believe that all teachers throughout the country should begin the push to have reading taught throughout the grades. It is awful to have high school students on a fourth grade reading level especially when they do not have a handicapping condition.

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Jackie's picture

I agree that students need reading instruction well beyond elementary school. It is difficult for students to learn about inferencing, main idea, summarizing, etc. when they are struggling to decode the words. My school has implemented the Accelerated Reader program this year and students are required to meet their AR goal. We are hoping that we can instill the love of reading in some of them, and with practice they will become better readers. We are also hoping to get a reading class as a core subject next year.

Kari's picture

Leslie, I could not agree with you more. Reading is the foundation for almost all school curriculum. There will come a time that if you do not have the reading ability, you will not understand the information. My district has started an RTI program that targets early intervention with young children. The idea is that if we can help them to be successful readers at a young age we can reduce the amount of struggling students in upper elementary grades. Literacy is the main goal of this program. Since the progam is new, I am not sure how effective it has been but I do have high hopes. Reading should not be taken for granted as it is such an important component to school success.

Nicole's picture

The school that I am working at just started the RtI process this year as well. Myself and another teacher work together and pull groups for the different tiers. As we work with them, such as reading, they become better readers and learn their words. This not only helps them throughout the year but hopefully in the later year in school. I do have to agree, that reading needs should be required for K-12. This will benefit everyone and help reinforce things learned in the early years.

Ashley's picture
Elementary Reading Teacher

Reading is absolutely essential K-12! I am fortunate enough to work in a district where we deem ourselves a "literacy focused" district. We have committees and learning communities made up of faculty from all of our schools (elem. through hs), administrators, parents and community members that meet to come up with fun, educational "reading events" that involve all age groups (and encourage whole family participation.) We integrate literacy into the content areas starting with Kindergarten all the way up through the High school level. It has taken some time to get everyone on board, but with the help of our Literacy Coach and many district meetings, we have seen progress. We have a long way to go, and we are constantly re-evaluating our goals and assessing how well our programs are working, but I truly think this is incredibly beneficial to our students. Let's face it, the job market is not going to be easy for our students when they grow up to adulthood and having a basic high school diploma is not going to get them very far. We are now teaching to prepare for a more competitive job force, higher standards for getting into colleges, and an ever-growing world of math, science, and technology. This education should revolve around the ability to read and write, because these are the basics of productive, intelligent human interaction.

Katy Keating's picture

WOW! Leslie this shocked me to read that so many school do not have reading courses after elementary school. I guess I was fortunate to go to school in a district where 4 years of some kind of English/Language arts was required in High School. I guess I was wrong in thinking that Reading was a fundamental part of life.

Leslie Griffiths's picture
Leslie Griffiths
High School Special Education

It is an incredible problem. My principal has convinced the Superintendant only insofar as to provide a reading coach to each of the English classes. I explained to him that I thought that was a good gesture, but that it would not be enough to counter the problems we are having as a district. We need a class that is required for those students that are struggling with reading. Does anyone have any ideas for a web based, or a computer based reading program that they have had some success with?

Leslie Griffiths's picture
Leslie Griffiths
High School Special Education

Hello Katy,
We do require four years of English beginning in the 9th grade. The problem is that with the End of Course exams these students have to take they do not have the time or the resources to really help those students with low reading scores. These kids need intervention that, in my opinion, would require an entire class period devoted to just reading.

Leslie Griffiths's picture
Leslie Griffiths
High School Special Education

We have had the Accelerated Reading program for some time, and it is good for those who like to read, but for those students who dislike reading because they have such a hard time doing it they do not get the interventions they need. They would rather get a bad grade in English than to read books. If they had a class that was structured around reading then after some instruction these students might find themselves having an easier time in classes that require heavy reading such as science, history, and language arts to mention a few.

Jackie's picture

I see the same thing with my students, they will take the bad grade over reading. Some of our students' reading level scores were so low, we do not have books in our library to meet their needs. I am so frustrated by students not getting the reading recovery they so desperately need. By the way, does your school reward the students for reaching their AR goals? We are trying it this year and it is effective for some, but like you said, the ones it is hard for, we are not reaching.

Les Griffiths's picture
Les Griffiths
Special Education Teacher from Atkins, Arkansas and Graduate Student.

Yes, we award AR points for students who reach various levels. Once they have enough points they can buy some prize from the Point Joint. As you stated, it works well for those who like to read or even tolerate reading, but it does not do anything for those students on a low reading level. When taught in Alaska they had a reading class that covered all the grade levels in the school which was 7th through 12th. On top of that the principal at the school required everyone to read during the last period on Friday. She even required the teachers to read during that 45 minute span. I was very impressed with her committment to reading and its improvement in the school. I only wish it was that way all over.

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