Why Children Aren’t Excelling in Literacy

f_0wp57.jpgAn August 10, 2010 Articlesbase Article by Ann Foster

The Literacy crisis worldwide and particularly, in Australia is not only related to those children who are failing the national testing regime, it is also related to the Literacy results across all areas of achievement. In America, this realisation was expressed in a report titled, A Nation Deceived. In this report, the authors focus on how schools hold back America’s brightest children. Australians need to take heed!

In analysing Literacy results at the local level and then conferring with other educators, I have arrived at the following conclusion. Some children’s results at all levels of achievement are falling. Underlying assessment reveals that students are failing to listen with appropriate comprehension, use language to adequately discuss their thoughts and understandings, and read and write at a level that is commensurate with their innate ability.

A cross analysis and personal research reveals that this is due to a range of complex issues. At this point, discussion will elaborate on the problems that are related to the area of reading.

Reading is a multifaceted task that involves decoding, and comprehending at a fluent level of delivery. These two areas of reading also integrate with syntax which is simply known as grammar or knowledge and understanding of the order of words. At the most basic level, children know that when they speak there is an order of words that is acceptable usage. It is at this most basic level of Pre-school and Prep that the skills being tested in Year Three in Australia are initially developed. It is through the years from birth to Year Three that funding for resources needs to be concentrated.

As children increase in age they need to be reading at complex levels which force them to comprehend in a spiralling range of difficulty. Explicit teaching is needed in order to decode and comprehend these texts. This delivery must encompass not only activation of world knowledge but knowledge about how texts work and the author’s purpose. This knowledge is then refined into understanding that the phonological, grammatical and semantic integration of the text at a whole text level, a paragraph level, a sentence level and finally at a word level is vital to comprehension. It is the integration of these three components of reading that teachers need to explore with their pupils. Children need to have texts exposed so that they can view the beauty that lies below the superficiality of just words. At the same time, teachers need to be able to model and demonstrate this information effectively to their students.

In summary, it is in the early years of education that we need to concentrate our resources and efforts. As a nation, our politicians need to take note that early childhood is where funding is necessary to resource the nation to excellence. We all know that we can do it. The media has to stop blaming teachers and support those who are building platforms for success. Run success stories and deny an imbalance of space for those who want to complain.

We not only require dedicated teachers, we require teachers who have attended Universities where the discussed skills are given priority. We require teachers who are readers themselves and who understand the knowledge that they are to relay to their students. Finally, we need a monitoring of teaching practice so that at the end of the day, we are not discouraged by the diminishing results of the students who will be the next generation to lead our country in a complex and global world.

About bcenglis

Bob Cleckler is a retired Chemical Engineer. In 1985 he read Jonathan Kozol's shocking new book, "Illiterate America." He decided to use his research skills as an engineer to see if there was a solution to the problem. He spent more than a year in his research. He read EVERY book he could find on the subject of his research. He read dozens of books from the large Marriott Research Library at the University of Utah. Based upon his findings, he developed a solution to the problem of English illiteracy. It is a PROVEN solution. Dr. Frank Laubach spent his entire adult life teaching adult illiterates around the world how to read in more than 300 alphabetic languages. Dr. Laubach proved that he could teach students, in 98% of the languages in which he taught, to read fluently in less than three months. His books, "Teaching the World to Read" and "Forty Years With the Silent Billion," never mention being unable to teach ANY of his students to read fluently.

Cleckler collaborated with Gary Sprunk, M.S. English Linguistics, to perfect his solution based upon Dr. Laubach's experience and findings. Two non-profit educational corporations were formed. Cleckler is the CEO of Literacy Research Associates, Inc. and Vice Pres. of R & D of NuEnglish, Inc. Gray Sprunk is President of NuEnglish, Inc. Cleckler's award-winning book, "Let's End Our Literacy Crisis," originally published in 2005 is now available on our website, http://LearnToReadNow.org, without cost or obligation for the Second Revision, released in late 2012. This breakthrough book covers:

A. the tremendous need for improving English literacy. Cleckler found research proving (1) that 48.7% of U.S. adults are functionally illiterate, defined as being unable to hold an above-poverty-level-wage job, (2) that 31.2% of these functional illiterates are in poverty, and (3) that they are more than twice as likely to be in poverty because of their illiteracy as for all other causes combined. Furthermore he found at least 34 types of serious physical, mental, emotional, medical, and financial problems that illiterates must endure every day of their lives that we would consider a crisis if we had to endure them. Cleckler also found that illiteracy costs EVERY U.S. adult -- readers and non-readers -- an average of more than $5,000 each year for government programs that illiterates use; for truancy, juvenile delinquency, and crime directly related to illiteracy; and for the higher cost of consumer goods due to illiterates in the labor pool and in the workforce.

B. the causes of illiteracy. Before any problem can be solved, you must find the cause. Otherwise you can spend huge amounts of money fighting the symptoms of the problem without preventing the problem from recurring.

C. the preferred, proven solution to the problem. We have been fighting the symptoms of the difficulty in learning to read English for almost a century. Although numerous changes in American education have been implemented in the last century, none of them solve the foundational cause of the problem. Almost half of U.S. students never become fluent readers, and most of the ones who do become fluent readers require at least two years to learn to read well enough to continue increasing their reading skills after third grade, when most reading instruction in school ends.

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