The Happily Ever After Project

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  • Start Early, Finish Strong, a Department of Education publication, emphasizes the importance of a child’s interaction with his/her environment rather than intelligence as a key factor in determining the ease at which a child will learn to read. The publication cites a National Research Council report which states, “Just as a child develops language skills long before being able to speak, the child also develops literacy skills long before being able to read.”
  • In a 1988 study, Juel found “… that 88% of children who have difficulty reading at the end of first grade display similar difficulties at the end of fourth grade.”
  • Researchers at Yale discovered a similar trend. In their 1997 study “… 75% of students who are poor readers in the third grade will remain poor readers in high school.”
  • Many states plan the number of jail cells they will need in the future by the number of children not reading on grade level by grade 3.
  • The average kindergarten student has seen more than 5,000 hours of television, having spent more time in front of the TV than it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree (US Department of Education)
  • 44% of all American adults do not read one book in the course of a year (US Department of Education)
  • 55% of all children in poverty live in single-parent households headed by women, and 40%of all single mothers have an 8th grade education or less (Lanbach Literacy)
  • Children develop much of their capacity to learn in the first three years of life, when their brain grows to 90% of their eventual adult weight. (1998 Karoly study)
  • The key is to start at birth. To immerse a child in a literacy environment can be a stronger predictor of literacy and academic achievement than family income. The more words a child hears, the larger the child’s vocabulary and the larger the child’s vocabulary, the more likely the child will be a proficient reader. However, in order to read with a child, books must be in the home. In a 1991 study by Needlman, parents given books by their doctor were four times more likely to read to their children. This rate increased to eight times more likely with lower income parents. (1991 Needlman study)
  • Disadvantaged students in the first grade have a vocabulary that is approximately half that of an advantaged student (2,900 and 5,800 respectively). Graves, 1986 / White, Graves & Slater, 1990
  • It is estimated that more than $2 billion is spent each year on students who repeat a grade because they have reading problems. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Since 1983, more than 10 million Americans reached the 12th grade without having learned to read at a basic level. In the same period, more than 6 million Americans dropped out of high school altogether. A Nation Still at Risk, U.S. Department of Education, 1999
  • Over one million children drop out of school each year, costing the nation over $240 billion in lost earnings, forgone tax revenues, and expenditures for social services. McQuillan, 1998
  • 46% of American adults cannot understand the label on their prescription medicine. Journal of American Medical Association
  • Forty-four percent of American 4th grade students cannot read fluently, even when they read grade-level stories aloud under supportive testing conditions. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Pinnell et al., 1995
  • In 1999, only 53 percent of children aged 3 to 5 were read to daily by a family member. Children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read aloud to everyday than are children in families with incomes at or above the poverty line. The National Center for Education Statistics, NCES Fast Facts, Family Reading
  • 50 percent of American adults are unable to read an eighth grade level book. Jonathan Kozol, Illiterate America
  • It is estimated that the cost of illiteracy to business and the taxpayer is $20 billion per year. United Way, Illiteracy: A National Crisis"
  • More than three out of four of those on welfare, 85% of unwed mothers and 68% of those arrested are illiterate. About three in five of America's prison inmates are illiterate. Washington Literacy Council
  • Approximately 50 percent of the nation's unemployed youth age 16-21 are functional illiterate, with virtually no prospects of obtaining good jobs. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • 60 percent of America's prison inmates are illiterate and 85% of all juvenile offenders have reading problems. U.S. Department of Education
  • The United States has the largest per-capita prison population in the world . “One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008,” a study by the PEW Center on the States
  • More than 20 percent of adults read at or below a fifth-grade level - far below the level needed to earn a living wage. National Institute for Literacy, Fast Facts on Literacy, 2001
  • Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3 - 4 times more likely to drop out in later years. National Adult Literacy Survey, (1002) NCES, U.S. Department of Education
  • A single high school dropout costs the nation approximately $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes, and productivity.
  • Nearly half of America's adults are poor readers, or "functionally illiterate." They can't carry out simply tasks like balancing check books, reading drug labels or writing essays for a job National Adult Literacy Survery of 1993
  • 21 million Americans can't read at all, 45 million are marginally illiterate and one-fifth of high school graduates can't read their diplomas. Department of Justice, 1993
  • According to the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 37 percent of fourth graders and 26 percent of eighth graders cannot read at the basic level; and on the 2002 NAEP 26 percent of twelfth graders cannot read at the basic level. That is, when reading grade appropriate text these students cannot extract the general meaning or make obvious connections between the text and their own experiences or make simple inferences from the text. In other words, they cannot understand what they have read. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

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