When Reading Is a Crisis

Greetings! My name is Megan Roedl, and I am the founder of E3-Engage.Educate.Empower, LLC, and E3 Instructional Advocates, LLC. Thank you for taking the time to review my website. My hope is for us to become partners in supporting your child’s education. 

I would like to take a moment to share my professional background with you. Ensuring that students are reading on grade level is a labor of love for me.  

I had the privilege of teaching social studies to 10th graders for nine years. As a young teacher, I felt frustrated by what I mistook as “laziness” or “apathy” among some of my students because their grades were not meeting my high standards. A colleague told me that my students were struggling with the work was not about laziness, apathy – or even aptitude and attitude. Instead, she shared with me that it was very likely that they were not reading on grade level. Together, we looked up some of the students I was concerned about reading levels. 

Sure enough, the reading levels ranged from 3rd to 7th grade for these students. How on earth could this be? I was teaching 10th graders, and our textbook was written on a 10th grade, 5th-month reading level.  

I started researching and approached my parents with the idea that I was ready for graduate school because I wanted to learn to implement reading intervention strategies. My father pondered this and said, “An intervention implies to me that there is a crisis. What is the crisis here?” I took a moment to reflect on this and explained to my Dad that if you were15 years old and had the reading level of a 7-year-old, THAT WAS A CRISIS. 

Two years later, I graduated with a Master’s degree in Literacy in the Content Areas, grades 6-12, from Walden University.  I used the new “reading toolkit” that I had built during my studies in my classroom with all levels of students, from those “at-promise” to identified gifted students. It was a huge success!

Throughout my 18-year career, I experienced opportunities for “on the job” training where I learned to stretch those skills and strategies to support students in grades 3, 4, and 5. 

Here are some educational statistics that may surprise you and help you understand why reading is so critical for children.  

Fast Facts adapted from Reading Horizons

  • A student who cannot read on grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently in 3rd grade. 
  • 16% of students overall do not receive a diploma by age 19. Still, students who struggle with reading in the first few years of elementary school comprise 88% of those who do not receive a diploma. 
  • 89% of students in poverty who read at grade level by 3rd-grade graduate on time, and at the same rate as students who never experienced poverty but struggled with reading early on.
  • Low reading skills are a stronger predictor that a student will not receive a diploma than a student who spends at least a year in poverty. Seventy percent of students who struggle in reading will not graduate on time.  
  • More than 25% of poor, struggling readers did not graduate. Only 2% of good readers from wealthier backgrounds did not graduate.
  • Gaps in graduation rates among Caucasian, Black, and Hispanic students closed once poverty and reading proficiency were considered.

An expert in the field, Dr. Bill McBride, once shared at a workshop that students who are struggling in reading by the 3rd grade subconsciously decide to drop out of school? Why third grade? The reading curriculum adds informational texts to fiction texts in 3rd grade.  These “informational” or non-fiction texts can be difficult. Some students simply need additional reading support to help them succeed.

On the opposite end of the K-12 spectrum, high school students must be proficient at comprehending primary sources in most curriculum areas to succeed in college.

Whether your child is in elementary school or will graduate in May, I encourage you to consider working with an Instructional Advocate who specializes in literacy. This may be the greatest gift you ever gave them.  It is, after all, the gift of reading.  

Here are some additional resources to check out.  

We Are Teachers
Cobb County Library
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
K 12 Reader
Reading Rockets

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