Importance of Literacy
By: Lori Furgerson
“Students who are not reading at grade level by the end of first grade have a 1 in 8 chance of ever catching up”. (Juel, 1988, 1994).
This is a shocking statement and one that I really want you to reread to yourself. This shows how important it is that students are where they need to be by the end of first grade. If they aren’t, it takes a lot of extra time and money to get them where they need to be. Unfortunately, being in teaching for as many years as I have been, I have seen that this is true first hand. When I see children who are in 4th grade that are struggling with reading and I go back to their kindergarten data, it shows they were low then as well.
If a child doesn’t learn to read, it affects all of us. Illiteracy has a negative effect on the quality of life that individual has. They will only be able to get lower wage jobs and their access to important information regarding health, safety and general well-being is limited. An astonishing fact is that the state of Texas budgets for how many prisons they will need to build in the future based on the state reading assessments of 3rd graders. This shows the direct correlation between not learning to read and the future for these children.
The great news is that reading failure is preventable. Research has identified that there are seven key factors that influence reading development regardless of a child’s socioeconomic level. They are:
1. Development of phonemic awareness and of the alphabet principle.
2. The ability to decode words.
3. Automaticity with enough words.
4. Acquisition of vocabulary and the application of reading comprehension strategies.
5. Extensive reading of narrative and expository text.
6. Maintaining the motivation to learn.
7. Adequate teacher preparation and materials.
We as teachers need to make sure children in our class are getting the instruction they need. Teachers need to be aware of where their students are academically and it is the teacher’s job to get them where they need to be. Unfortunately, we can’t control what happens when they are not with us but we can control the six to eight hours they are with us.
Stay tuned for more ways we can guarantee the children placed in your classroom receive the instruction they need to be successful in life! You may be their only hope!
Lori Furgerson is a national literacy consultant who has provided technical assistance to school sites and professional development to teachers across the country. She taught for 16 years in three under performing schools with great success. She has been a reading intervention teacher, as well as State Implementation Advisor to the state of Hawaii. Skillful use of a variety of core reading and intervention programs has allowed Lori to professionally shape leadership at the state, district, and local levels while increasing their instructional ability to successfully execute effective instruction. She works with teachers daily as an instructional coach and has a true passion for seeing them succeed and become the best they can be.