One in four American adults can’t read this sentence.
It’s a staggering statistic for a first-world nation where free education is provided to every child. And it’s compounded by the fact that 43 percent of adults are reading at or below the most basic level of comprehension.
Learning to read is the most important skill students acquire during the earliest years of their education. Not only is it a skill tied to their future success in school, but literacy at a young age directly affects what their lives will be as adults.
National statistics have shown that two-thirds of students who can’t read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will either end up in jail or on welfare. Seventy-five percent of Americans who receive food stamps perform at the lowest two levels of literacy, and nearly 85 percent of juveniles in the court system are illiterate. Teenage girls who are below-average readers are six times more likely to have children out of wedlock. And reports show that illiteracy directly costs the health care industry more than $70 million a year.
Literacy is an ongoing battle in this country, and our schools are often on the front lines. Fortunately, it’s a battle many of our local schools are winning.
The Indiana Department of Education released preliminary data for the 2014 IREAD test last week. The test has been given to all Indiana third-graders for the past three years. Students who fail the reading exam are required to complete a remediation course and retake the test.
Statewide, the IREAD pass rate was 85.58 percent, up slightly from 85.28 percent the previous year. Locally, many schools saw increases in their rates. Among them was Anderson Community Schools, which had a pass rate of 78 percent, a 5 percent improvement over the 2013 test. Two elementary schools within ACS posted double-digit improvements, including Anderson Elementary (17 percent) and Edgewood Elementary (12 percent).