Double Jeopardy Report: The Importance of Bending the Reading Growth Trajectory

Thanks to Education Week for pointing to a soon to be released study:” Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation”.  The study presents a startling finding: students who are unable to read on grade level by third grade are four times less likely to graduate by age 19:

…Add poverty to the mix, and a student is 13 times less likely to graduate on time than his or her proficient, wealthier peer.

“Third grade is a kind of pivot point,” said Donald J. Hernandez, the study’s author and a sociology professor at Hunter College, at the City University of New York. “We teach reading for the first three grades and then after that children are not so much learning to read but using their reading skills to learn other topics. In that sense if you haven’t succeeded by 3rd grade it’s more difficult to [remediate] than it would have been if you started before then.”

This study points to the importance of early intervention and targted reading as a way to influence a student’s reading growth rate.  Dr. Malbert Smith’s recent policy brief, ‘Bending the Reading Growth Trajectory: Instructional Strategies to Promote Skills and Close the Readiness Gap’  is directly relevant here and provides a blueprint for the sort of instructional strategies that serve to help students remain on track for college and career readiness.

Specifically, Dr. Smith advocates adopting early intervention strategies for young and struggling readers.  In addition to these strategies, he aruges for increasing the velocity of growing readers through the use of deliberate and targeted practice.  Smith also advocates an earlier introduction to more complex texts:

Reading growth can also be addressed by exposing students to more complex text—especially in the middle and high school years—so that they have increased opportunities to stretch their skills. Unfortunately, as Appendix A of the Common Core Standards laments, “K-12 texts have actually trended downward in difficulty” and have become “less demanding” over the past fifty years (Chall, Conrad, & Harris, 1977; Hayes, Wolfer, & Wolfe, 1996). Intended to remove barriers to content with more accessible texts, this trend has had the unintended effect of hampering students’ ability to tackle more challenging texts as they progress toward graduation. It should be noted that exposing secondary students to more demanding text no longer has to result in discomfort, strain or frustration. With measurement tools like Lexile® measures that help students determine their “just-right” reading range to enhance reading growth and lead to readiness, students can challenge themselves with success and a resulting sense of accomplishment.

For more concrete strategies on ways to ensure that students are reading on grade level, be sure to check out the whole thing.  As the recent Double Jeopardy report makes clear, improving the reading ability of young students is vital to ensuring the success of these students beyond high school.

Florida’s ‘Teacher Talk’

Teacher Talk’s April episode takes a look at various summer reading programs, including “Find A Book” Florida and also offers an interview with our own Malbert Smith.  In the interview Dr. Smith covers a wide variety of topics, including how parents and educators  access to the Lexile measure, how to manage multiple measures, how Lexile measures can be used in and outside of the classroom, and how to use “Find A Book” without having a Lexile measure.  He also talks about the many resources available to both teachers and parents.

 Teacher Talk is hosted by The Florida Department of Education and was designed to communicate with Florida teachers about innovative approaches to education. Through this venue, they make numerous resources available to help with the day-to-day challenges of teaching. “Teacher Talk” airs monthly on the Florida Knowledge Network, the JustforTeachers website, iTunesU and the Florida Education Channel on Dish Network. Episodes air the second Tuesday of every month and re-run as time slots are available.

Be sure to take a look.

Policy Brief: Bridging the Readiness Gap

Recently, we released our first of many policy briefs written by our very own Dr. Malbert Smith III, MetaMetrics’ President and Co-Founder.

MetaMetrics is focused on improving education for learners of all ages. For over twenty years, our work has been increasingly recognized for its distinct value in differentiating instruction and personalizing learning.  For example, our research on post secondary reading demands, on what it means to be college and career ready, informed the Common Core State Standards.

In addition to the white papers and position papers we publish throughout the year, our policy briefs will encompass research on a variety of educational issues, such as closing the achievement gap, next-generation assessments, and college- and career-readiness. The policy briefs will explore potential ways to address these critical issues by focusing on education as the foundation of student success and the stepping stone to social and economic growth in our country.

The first brief is titled “Bridging the Readiness Gap: Demystifying Required Reading Levels for Post-secondary Pursuits.” An executive summary is below and the entire brief is available in both HTML and PDF formats:

What does it mean to be “college- and career-ready?” According to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the Holy Grail of education is to ensure that all high school graduates are adequately prepared for their academic and professional pursuits. This goal underscores the current national educational reform agenda-both Race to the Top requirements and Common Core criteria advocate standards that build toward and ensure college and career readiness. While many factors comprise readiness, one of the most important is the ability to read and comprehend complex texts. And although our research shows a significant gap between the text demands of high school and the post-secondary world, progress has already been made in reconsidering the entire scope of the P-20 educational landscape. Using our research, Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards demonstrates how the text continuum can be redrawn by Lexile grade bands so that educators and administrators have a reliable road map to make sure students are building the reading skills necessary to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities that await them. By forecasting deficiencies in reading ability, we can demystify the “readiness gap,” raise the bar for reading achievement, and better prepare students for success in their post-secondary endeavors.

Want to subscribe to our policy briefs? Visit www.Lexile.com and click on Register in the top right corner. Be sure to check the box next to News Releases!

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.