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Students Read Below Level Preparing Them For College, Report Finds

Students Read Below Level Preparing Them For College, Report Finds

How much are students reading? A new report finds that students are reading way below the level that prepares them for college. 

According to Renaissance Learning, American students are reading more nonfiction, "but not as much as Common Core standards recommend, and their reading tends to be far less challenging than it should be to prepare them for college or careers," said an article on Yahoo.com.

The report, "What Kids Are Reading", "tracks the reading habits of some 10 million US students at all grade levels through its Accelerated Reader program, in which students record and take quizzes about books they read, both independently and as assigned reading."

For the past five years, "its report has contained lists of the top fiction and nonfiction books by grade, for both boys and girls, giving a sense of their reading habits and when kids shift from 'Green Eggs and Ham' to 'The Outsiders,' the article said. "In the new report, Renaissance goes beyond the lists to analyze the complexity of kids' reading material, how much they read, and why it matters."

"Kids who spend a lot of time reading and have success reading are ones who grow most," said Eric Stickney, Renaissance’s director of educational research. "This raises a lot of questions about the extent to which teachers and parents are providing enough time for students to practice reading."

The report, the article said, "also tracks complexity, measuring how challenging books are with the so-called ATOS formula."

New standards, the article said, "have specified that reading should rise in complexity as students get older to prepare them for the more complex reading they're likely to encounter in college or careers," Yahoo said. "But by the end of high school, the average complexity of the books that 12th-graders are reading is 5.2 on the ATOS scale – a far cry from what standards say they should be reading – between 9.7 and 14.1 for high school – and far lower than the complexity of the average New York Times article (10.6) or college textbook [13.8]."

According to the report, "the Common Core State Standards have called for more nonfiction reading, and guidelines from the National Assessment Governing Board suggest students move to about 70 percent nonfiction by 12th grade.

"The Renaissance survey shows that since Common Core standards were announced, the percent of reading that is nonfiction has moved up by about 5 percent for every grade level," said Yahoo. "But it's still far below the recommended levels – the proportion of nonfiction books read independently varies from 13 percent to 31 percent based on gender and grade level – though the survey doesn't capture articles, essays, or other informational reading that students may be assigned in various classes."

"In elementary school, kids being asked to [read appropriately difficult books], and they can handle it," said Stickney. "By high school, less than 15 percent of students read one or more books in their target range."

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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