Why Our Kids Can’t Read Well
Every year the United States spends billions of dollars trying to improve the reading skills of our children. Yet according to our federal government, half of the adult U.S. population is functionally illiterate.
“This we can say with certainty: If a child in a modern society like ours does not learn to read, he doesn’t make it in life.” Learning to Read: Schooling’s First Mission, American Federation of Teachers, Summer 1995.
Nothing has changed in 25+ years!
There are really only two reading components: decoding (the ability to read individual words effortlessly), and reading comprehension (the ability to understand what you read). While these components can be broken down into more detailed skills (i.e. story parts, interpretive theme or main idea), decoding and comprehension are the two major reading skills.
Carole Richards and her team have researched available reading programs and concluded that there is NO successful concise plan for teaching reading in our schools! She found that none of the existing reading programs take small steps to show children “how to read”. RLS utilizes children to demonstrate each step in the RLS Program.
Too Many Rules
Most multi-sensory systematic reading programs have large quantities of rules for the children to memorize.
RLS uses fewer rules to teach the same concepts. This frees students with memory issues to remember what they are learning. Because it is fun, students remember the quirky concepts and puppets teaching the children in the lessons. Then students wanting to know the more complex spelling rules for English can explore them when they become good readers and more confident.
You're Not Alone!
I have been writing about literacy, or actually, illiteracy, for several decades. Reading has not changed...millions of children DO NOT learn to read in school. That’s the elephant in the room!
The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), our Nation’s Report Card, announced the fourth grade score average dropped five points in 2022. The eighth grade average score dropped seven points. At face value, these results are troubling and most likely a result of remote learning and COVID. The big picture is more troubling.
The top score on the NAEP standard score is 500. Our nation’s nine-year-old 2022 average is 215. In 1992, the average was 217 and our top score was 222 in 2017. The NAEP proficient score for nine-year-olds is 238. This means our nation’s average has not yet reached the proficient (read at grade level) range EVER! Eighth grade scores are not much different.
In 2019, some 66 percent of 4th-grade students performed at or above the NAEP Basic achievement level in reading, 35 percent performed at or above NAEP Proficiency, and 9 percent performed at NAEP Advanced. 56% of our fourth graders cannot read well or at all. These results are deplorable!
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
Our colleges fail to instruct future teachers in a reading method; a method is a step-by-step approach. Our education publishing companies collect on this lack of knowledge by continuing to publish whole language texts because it is easy to teach but do not teach reading!
“Although the term “whole language” is rarely used today, programs based on its premises, such as Reading Recovery, Four Blocks, Guided Reading, and especially “balanced literacy,” are as popular as ever. These approaches may pay lip service to reading science, but they fail to incorporate the content and instructional methods proven to work best with students learning to read.” Louisa Moats, Whole Language High Jinks: How to Tell When “Scientifically-Based Reading Instruction Isn’t.”
Many teachers and student report that systematic phonics programs are dry and boring with too many rules to learn. The debate continues over “whole language” programs and systematic phonics programs.
Our schools know there is a problem, but they can’t afford to retrain entire faculties. The result, much reading instruction in our schools remains disjointed.
While the 2021 National results are not positive, decades of reading results remain more depressing. What our schools are doing isn’t working. Our students continue to struggle in school, in work, and in life because they cannot read and write well.
Stay tuned for our progress. Mark Lauterbauch, PhD, Brooklyn College, our awesome researcher, continues to monitor our progress.
As a parent, what can you do? Ask your child’s teacher, principal, superintendent or school board: “What reading method does your school use?” Most likely they will tell you that they use a published curriculum not an effective reading methodology.
Solving the Problem of Teacher Training
“Sammy and the Magical Reading Chest” simplifies the delivery model by training the teacher/parent in the classroom at the same time the children learn to read.
There is no teacher’s guide; all the needed information is found in the videos and at the bottom of workbook pages indicated with “To the Teacher”.
We suggest teachers do one-minute reinforcer lessons when kids are standing in line or in need of a movement break. Games are incorporated throughout the workbook to break up traditional practice exercises.
Stay tuned for our progress.
Mark Lauterbauch, PhD, Brooklyn College, un-biased researcher, continues to monitor our program’s success. Dr. Lauterbach is a former student of Dr. Linnea Ehri, a nationally known reading expert. He has also completed research with her.