According to the Nation’s Report Card, about two-thirds of eighth-graders are not proficient readers. What’s even more alarming is the fact that the size of that cohort has remained steady for the last 25 years! This means, unless they have had intervening remedial instruction, the majority of ninth-to-12th-grade students are also non-proficient readers. And, as can be seen by the Report Card, those inadequate reading comprehension skills are producing below-grade-level performance across academic subjects.
Fortunately, research shows that adolescence is not too late to learn to read well. The challenge for teachers is that one class of students will contain a wide range of reading abilities and needs, from those who are virtual non-readers to ones who are at grade level or above grade level.
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So, how do we teach all those students to read well? How do we maximize student learning? And how do we minimize the time it will take to get them to reading proficiency?
A strategy to help struggling adolescent readers
Understand students’ strengths and weaknesses
Even when they display similar reading proficiencies, students’ overall strengths and weaknesses are going to be very different. Therefore, it is essential to pinpoint the specific reason for a student’s lack of proficiency.