Reading Students (Reading Struggle)

The Nationwide Reading Struggle

Jan. 19, 2023 • By Studies Weekly

Even before the start of the pandemic, national reading scores were dropping. Now, with schools back in-person, many teachers are seeing the toll the pandemic took on students’ reading abilities. The 2022 Stanford National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that math and science reading test scores dropped significantly between 2019 and 2022.

According to the 2022 report on this national assessment by a team of researchers at Stanford and Harvard, the data showed that while students with mostly remote classes had lower scores on average, remote learning had little impact on a student’s performance. The pandemic brought with it many more struggles than just learning from home.

“Even in school districts where students were in person for the whole year, test scores still declined substantially on average,” Sean Reardon, a professor in Poverty and Inequality at Stanford, said in the report. “A lot of things were happening that made it hard for kids to learn. One of them seems to be the extent to which schools were open or closed, but that’s only one among many factors that seems to have driven the patterns of change.”

3 children reading on the floor

Reardon explained that the pandemic affected children in significantly different ways, depending on their socioeconomic status and the level of disruptions to their regular routines, support circles, and mental health.

“Kids’ educational opportunities were really harmed in the past few years, and that damage was most pronounced in high-poverty communities. School districts are the first line of action to help children catch up. The better they know about the patterns of learning loss, the more they’re going to be able to target their resources effectively,” Reardon said.

Students across the country are falling more than one grade level behind where their reading scores should be. Many kindergarten and first-grade students missed out on crucial language learning during 2020 and 2021. One school in Connecticut reported that many of their teachers had to start the 2022 school year with the basics — showing students how to hold a book, or reviewing the ABCs and letter sounds, according to a 2022 New York Times article by Dana Goldstein.

Learning Loss Affects Students in Many Ways

‘What we’re seeing is that there are a lot of children who didn’t get the stimulation they need[ed],” said researcher Tiffany P. Hogan in the New York Times article. She explained that the right type of stimulation is needed to help a child develop early speech and reading skills. Because of low reading levels, students may struggle with proper speech as well.

How Low Reading Levels Affect a Student’s Education

Low reading scores by themselves are concerning, but literacy plays a huge role in a student’s education and affects more than just learning in other subjects.

Low reading scores

“Poor readers are more likely to drop out of high school, earn less money as adults, and become involved in the criminal justice system,” Goldstein said in the New York Times article.

The ability to read well can impact the trajectory of a student’s entire life.

Emily Toronto, a 5th-grade teacher at Bonneville Elementary in Utah, reported that her lower-level reading students also struggle in social studies and science.

Though helping students with reading in small groups helps a little, Toronto says, “it can get more difficult when doing content reading for social studies or science. My lower readers have a much harder time reading those texts.” Many teachers notice this same struggle.

This is where Studies Weekly can help.

About Studies Weekly Products

Our publications offer reading and literacy support in social studies, science, and health. We also have two 4-week ELA program options that are adaptable to teacher- or self-guided instruction and have no visible grade band markers so older students aren’t embarrassed about their reading level.

Implementing Studies Weekly into your classrooms can help your students in the following ways:

    • Providing Content in Multiple Subjects: When students are assigned articles from Studies Weekly Science and Social Studies, they practice their reading skills and learn necessary content at the same time.
    • Improving Reading Comprehension: All Studies Weekly products are designed as a basal subject curriculum that can also be used in the ELA block and for independent reading time. They include a focus on all ELA skills, not just relaying information. Studies Weekly’s informational text can help students improve their reading scores on grade and state assessments.
    • Grade-level Lexiled Content: If needed, teachers can assign Studies Weekly publications to students based on their reading level. This meets students where they’re at and helps them improve.
Studies Weekly Curriculum

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