Reading is an essential life skill that students have been learning since their earliest years of schooling. One of the most common pieces of advice parents are given is to read to their children and expose them to language from a young age. I remember the first time I heard my own daughter read to herself and being amazed at the world she had just opened up for herself, the world of literacy.
For many students in California, this world is limited due to their struggles in the area of literacy. The 2019 SBAC scores have just been released and found that “statewide results in all tested grades showed that 50.87 percent of students met or exceeded standards in ELA, a .99 percentage point increase from 2018 and a 6.87 percentage point increase from 2015,” according to the California Department of Education. Per this data point, about half of California students tested are reading at their prospective grade levels. Where does this leave the other half? How will that half enter the world of literacy? A world that they must master in order to communicate, read, and write effectively in today’s modern age? Additionally, there was less than a one percentage point increase in proficiency levels from 2018 to 2019. This growth does not match the severity in below basic reading levels our state students currently hold. This just simply isn’t good enough.
Further studies conducted by the California Policy Center found that “In California, 25 percent of the state’s 6 million students are unable to perform basic reading skills.” I currently teach eleventh grade students in my English class and have witnessed firsthand the dire disparities that exist in the literacy levels of my students. I have students reading at college level and students who read at a third grade level. Despite this disparity, I plan thoughtful lessons with students at the center to challenge the academic and literacy capacity of all my students. To me, reading is more than a mere subject I teach to students, reading opens doors to cultural and critical consciousness and awareness. In order to be connected members of our school and home community, my students need to be proficient, at least, in their reading, writing, and speaking abilities.
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