reading study

3 reasons why the reading gap is still alarmingly wide

New research sheds light on why so many students are not reading at grade level

Reading ability is a big predictor of other academic success, and unfortunately, many U.S. students are not reading at grade level, according to new research.

Research has long established that proficient reading helps students succeed in other subject areas, especially as academic content becomes more challenging. Students who do not read at grade level by 4th grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. Reading ability also helps children develop empathy and self-confidence.

2017 NAEP results show that more than 6 out of 10 U.S. 4th graders do not read at grade level, and that number worsens for low-income students in high-poverty schools, where 8 in 10 students are not proficient.

To gauge the nation’s reading readiness, Age of Reading surveyed more than 1,000 parents and 1,000 teachers of children ages 2-12, reporting on children’s access to books, their reading habits, and major obstacles to developing confident and strong readers.

That research zeroed in on three major factors contributing to the reading gap.

1. Many children lack access to books, especially high-quality books

More than half of surveyed parents say they have fewer than 50 books of any kind in their homes, including children’s books. Schools can’t always pick up the slack–10 percent of surveyed teachers say their school does not have a school library, and 56 percent say their students do not have access to a digital library. Other research shows that more than 8,000 elementary schools in the U.S. do not have school libraries.

Cost is another issue around lack of access to books. Seventy percent of surveyed teachers say purchasing books for a classroom library is too expensive, and 77 percent say they buy classroom books with their own money.

Laura Ascione

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at