Reading linked to decreased dropout rates
Giving a child a book doesn't simply provide a young reader with a pleasant way to pass a few hours. Cultivating a taste for reading at an early age increases a student's chances of graduating from high school versus dropping out, a new study shows.
The report, titled "Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic," focused on literacy as one of the risk factors associated with students who fail to graduate. Although some of the red flags don't come about until secondary school, there are predictors present in elementary school as well.
Reading levels are an early warning sign
According to the report, students who have a proficient reading level by the end of the third grade are more likely to have academic success and graduate high school. Regular attendance was seen as a key factor in achieving reading competence, as many of the children not reading at the recommended level were linked with chronic absenteeism.
Students with strong adult and peer supports were also more likely to complete high school, the report said. Setting up classroom reading groups could be one way to promote a spirit of camaraderie around books as young readers learn from and inspire one another.
Poor literacy leads to other problems
High school drop-out rates are a major issue, but they are not the only obstacle that below-average reading levels can signal. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, low literacy leads to a greater chance of incarceration, higher health care costs and increased odds of experiencing poverty. While there are undoubtedly other factors involved, being a proficient reader is a step toward success for children of any age.
It's never too late
Regardless of a student's age or grade level, the time is always right to improve reading skills, and finding engaging ways to encourage reading outside the classroom could help boost young readers' proficiency. The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which focuses on improving literacy in children to provide them with better odds of finding success later in life, emphasizes the importance of assigning enriching summer reading books and practicing daily literacy exercises. Parents can support teachers by reading with their children, and taking them to special events at libraries and bookstores. Even watching a video clip of a favorite author talking about his or her books might prove inspiring.
These are only small steps, but they may make all the difference.