Literacy is Freedom

Literacy is Freedom
light build above books

Literacy is Freedom

October 2022 | Issue #33

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free,” said Frederick Douglass. This was no understatement. Everywhere we go, we read. When we go to McDonald’s, Starbucks, restaurants, restrooms, and grocery stores, we are going to need to read. We can rely on icons and pictures, but that can be very limiting. What about when we sign contracts for an apartment, a gym membership, a car loan, or a home loan? Using icons or pictures is not an option in these cases. This type of reading is dense and cannot be avoided. Mistakes with contracts can be financially and even emotionally damaging. Do our students have the reading capacity to go anywhere and read anything? Do they have the capacity to be “forever free”?

The National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) has assessed student reading ability from 1992 to 2019. The reality illustrated by the results is disheartening. Not only were the results for proficient or advanced 4th, 8th, and 12th grade readers disappointing, the progress made over the course of 27 years is disheartening. Nationally, 4th graders went from 28% to 35%, 8th graders went from 29% to 33%, and twelfth graders went from 40% to 37%. That is simply not enough progress over the course of 27 years and leaves deep concerns for the coming 27 years. More concerning, what will the scores after the pandemic tell us?

According to Lowell, Felton, & Hook (2014) “…without early and effective intervention, studies indicate that three-fourths of students who are still behind in reading in third grade will remain behind through high school.” This is apparent in the statistics mentioned above and the cycle needs to be stopped. But how?

Here is how:

  • Adopt a Structured Literacy approach
    • Principles:
      • Systematic and Cumulative
      • Explicit
      • Diagnostic
    • Elements:
      • Phonology
      • Sound-Symbol (phonics)
      • Syllables
      • Morphology
      • Syntax
      • Semantics

Teaching students to decode is half of the struggle when it comes to reading comprehension. Implementing Structured Literacy as early as pre-kindergarten will help get your students there, “forever free.”