(NewsUSA) Do today’s students perform better than their peers in 1960? Given the advances in education and technology, it would be natural to assume that the answer is a resounding "yes.” But, when it comes to reading efficiency, new research suggests that that’s not the case.
The research, published by the International Literacy Association, compares the comprehension-based silent reading efficiency of US students (grades 2-12) in 2011 with data collected in 1960.
A key finding was that students fall further behind as they advance through the grades, wrote Alexandra Spichtig, Ph.D., Chief Research Officer of Reading Plus, and first author of the study.
The study showed that today’s second-grade students are comparable to their peers of 50 years ago, but that by the end of high school, students’ comprehension-based silent reading rates average 19 percent slower than the rates of their 1960 peers.
"What we know — and the data underscore this — is that for many students, the progression to efficient silent reading does not develop naturally. Many students need structured silent reading instruction,” explains Mark Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of Reading Plus, a web-based silent reading program for schools.
Some of the benefits of implementing silent reading instruction at home or in school are:
* Expanded vocabulary
* Improved comprehension
* Increased efficiency
* Enhanced reading enjoyment
* Improved writing skills
Experts agree that without extensive silent reading practice in the classroom or at home, students will continue to struggle and literacy rates will continue to fall short or fall behind.
"Effective reading instruction must integrate fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension practice tailored to meet each student’s unique needs. This study demonstrates that as long as structured silent reading practice is neglected in this country, the literacy problem is likely to continue,” Taylor adds.
While researchers can’t pinpoint reasons for the decline in silent reading efficiency from that of 50 years ago, it stands to reason that those students who engage in structured silent reading practice become more efficient readers and take with them a love of books that lasts far past their high school graduation.