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Sixty-four percent of U.S. 4th grade children are unable to read proficiently. Reading is not transparent to learning from the written materials used in their classes. For children of color and/or poverty, the numbers are much worse. Seventy-five percent of children who do not reach proficiency with reading by the 3rd grade never catch up and are four times more likely to drop out of high school (What's At Stake).
Many children begin school coming from early life-learning trajectories (particularly with respect to language) that did not provide them with the exposure and exercise it takes to be ready for the challenges involved in learning to read. Though in NO WAY their fault, most students who struggle with reading begin to blame themselves and feel ashamed of themselves, and as they do, they begin to avoid reading to avoid that feeling. The downward spiral that ensues profoundly maligns their trajectories throughout school and life.
Unable to sufficiently improve, unable to avoid the challenge, (day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year), children who struggle with reading fall further and further behind. The mind-shaming effects of feeling 'not good enough' at learning have even greater life-distorting implications (Mind-Shame). For each child, for the education system, and for the nation as a whole, the negative ripple effects are staggering.
In order to read English, the reader’s brain must (unconsciously) perform ‘code operations’, during which the recognition of elements in the writing system result in the construction of an internal experience of word recognition.
While numerous factors exacerbate the challenges involved in learning to read, the most common impediment, for most children, is the (artificially) confusing relationships between letters and sounds in the code of the English writing system.