An alarm sounded last week when results from the Nation’s Report Card showed faltering reading levels for America’s young people. The release from the National Association of Educational Progress (NAEP) revealed a decrease in student achievement in 17 states in fourth grade reading and 31 states in eighth grade reading in the last two years. With all of the “breaking news” in our day to day lives, this headline is worthy of real reflection. Our students and our schools need and deserve our help.
Beyond just the common sense nature of needing to be able to read and write well, according to the 2016 Why Reading Matters report from Business Roundtable, “93 percent of CEOs rated reading and writing as very or somewhat important for current job openings in their companies, and 42 percent of CEOs reported problems in finding qualified applicants with strong enough skills in those areas.” On top of that, the Georgetown Public Policy Institute reports that we will have 55 million job openings in the economy throughout 2020. Sixty-five percent of them will require a postsecondary education and training beyond high school and the fastest growing occupations (health care, community services and STEM) have the highest demand. How will we possibly be able to meet our workforce needs if our young people continue to struggle to read at a proficient level?
I am proud that organizations representing education and civil rights communities have quickly come together to address this alarming news. This week, more than ten leading education groups have issued an urgent call to action to focus on five critical areas:
As individual organizations, we’ve all developed respective agendas that place student achievement and equity at the core of our work. Together, we are calling on everyone with a stake in the future workforce to join us — and the thousands of educators who do this work every day — in making reading and literacy a national priority. Our future workforce depends on this foundation—and our students deserve the best shot at success.
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I am the executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success, a non-profit organization that defends high standards, high-quality assessments and strong systems ...