... some sobering stats on reading in the USA ...

Over at my LAFQ pages, there is a discussion today of reading stimulated by the award yesterday to French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature. In searching for some facts to back up a statement I made there, I came across a site with some sobering stats on reading in the USA, which I offer here for your entertainment (to those of you, at least, who can read).

Education Statistics

Five to six year olds have a vocabulary of 2,500-5,000 words.

33% of children in California will not finish high school.

Disadvantaged students in the first grade have a vocabulary that is approximately half that of an advantaged student (2,900 and 5,800 respectively).

The average student learns about 3,000 words per year in the early school years (8 words per day).

The educational careers of 25 to 40 percent of American children are imperiled because they don't read well enough, quickly enough, or easily enough.

14% of all individuals have a learning disability.

54 percent of all teachers have limited English proficient (LEP) students in their classrooms, yet only one-fifth of teachers feel very prepared to serve them.

It is estimated that more than $2 billion is spent each year on students who repeat a grade because they have reading problems.

Since 1983, more than 10 million Americans reached the 12th grade without having learned to read at a basic level. In the same period, more than 6 million Americans dropped out of high school altogether.

Literacy Statistics

Over 50% of NASA employees are dyslexic. They are deliberately sought after because they have superb problem solving skills and excellent 3D and spatial awareness.

Over one million children drop out of school each year, costing the nation over $240 billion in lost earnings, forgone tax revenues, and expenditures for social services.

More than 20 percent of adults read at or below a fifth-grade level - far below the level needed to earn a living wage.

More than three out of four of those on welfare, 85% of unwed mothers and 68% of those arrested are illiterate. About three in five of America's prison inmates are illiterate.

Approximately 50 percent of the nation's unemployed youth age 16-21 are functional illiterate, with virtually no prospects of obtaining good jobs.

44 million adults in the U.S. can't read well enough to read a simple story to a child.

It is estimated that the cost of illiteracy to business and the taxpayer is $20 billion per year.

Dyslexia affects one out of every five children - ten million in America alone.

Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3 - 4 times more likely to drop out in later years.

60 percent of America's prison inmates are illiterate and 85% of all juvenile offenders have reading problems.

U.S. adults ranked 12th among 20 high income countries in composite (document, prose, and quantitative) literacy.

21 million Americans can't read at all, 45 million are marginally illiterate and one-fifth of high school graduates can't read their diplomas.

Nearly half of America's adults are poor readers, or "functionally illiterate." They can't carry out simply tasks like balancing check books, reading drug labels or writing essays for a job.

To participate fully in society and the workplace in 2020, citizens will need powerful literacy abilities that until now have been achieved by only a small percentage of the population.

Reading Statistics

46% of American adults cannot understand the label on their prescription medicine.

15% of all 4th graders read no faster than 74 words per minute, a pace at which it would be difficult to keep track of ideas as they are developing within the sentence and across the page.

It is estimated that as many as 15 percent of American students may be dyslexic. (but check out the factoid above about NASA employees!)

One-third of 500,000 = 22? There are almost half a million words in our English Language - the largest language on earth, incidentally - but a third of all our writing is made up of only twenty-two words.

56 percent of young people say they read more than 10 books a year, with middle school students reading the most. Some 70 percent of middle school students read more than 10 books a year, compared with only 49 percent of high school students.

15 percent of the population has specific reading disorders. Of these 15 percent as many as 1/3 may show change in the brain structure.

50 percent of American adults are unable to read an eighth grade level book.

The average reader spends about 1/6th of the time they spend reading actually rereading words.

In a class of 20 students, few if any teachers can find even 5 minutes of time in a day to devote to reading with each student.

Students who reported having all four types of reading materials (books, magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias) in their home scored, on average, higher than those who reporter having fewer reading materials.

In 1999, only 53 percent of children aged 3 to 5 were read to daily by a family member. Children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read aloud to everyday than are children in families with incomes at or above the poverty line.

Good readers in 5th grade may read 10 times as many words as poor readers over a school year.

Forty-four percent of American 4th grade students cannot read fluently, even when they read grade-level stories aloud under supportive testing conditions.

When the State of Arizona projects how many prison beds it will need, it factors in the number of kids who read well in fourth grade.

Out-of-school reading habits of students has shown that even 15 minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year.

According to the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 37 percent of fourth graders and 26 percent of eighth graders cannot read at the basic level; and on the 2002 NAEP 26 percent of twelfth graders cannot read at the basic level. That is, when reading grade appropriate text these students cannot extract the general meaning or make obvious connections between the text and their own experiences or make simple inferences from the text. In other words, they cannot understand what they have read.

First grade children with good word recognition skills were exposed to almost twice as many words in their basal readers as were children who had poor word recognition skills.

* * *

It's been a while since I posted notes on what I've been reading lately (over the last 6 months or so). I'll try to get a reading list together, for my own entertainment as well as yours (the one person out there who stops by here from time to time, usually at his father's urging) to see what I've posted.

In the meantime, my comment over at LAFQ on the best gift we can give our kids ...

Vous qui avez de rejetons ... le meilleur cadeau que vous puissiez leur offrir ce n'est pas le X-Box 360, ni le Wii, c'est plutôt la faculté de lecture, le temps ... une vingtaine de minutes chaque nuit à lire qqch qu'ils aimeront ... ce sera un cadeau qui enrichira leurs vies à jamais ... qui leur donnera un choix futur plus étendu de boulots, l'appréciation et le goût des divertissements approfondis d'à travers tout le monde ... une vie plus riche, quoi ... et qui parmi nous ne voudrions pas vouloir donner la meilleur vie possible à nos gosses si dûment adorés?

Actually, there are a few important gifts we can give our kids ... but that will have to be a discussion for another day.

While we're talking about reading and Nobel Prizes, check out this fun page at the Nobel site that asks Nobel Laureates what THEY read when they were young. I plan to get into this when I have a moment, to see what looks interesting to me!

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