The Time to Act is Now
Alicia Levi, President & CEO, Reading Is Fundamental
Across the country, children are returning to classrooms – full of excitement and possibilities for the school year ahead. It’s been a long road back to normalcy as schools and families have navigated the many challenges of the pandemic. And while I know many families and educators are heartened to have students back together in the school building, we have to recognize a difficult reality: there is a literacy crisis in America that has been deeply exacerbated by the pandemic. The release this week of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Long Term Trend (LTT) results for 9-year-olds should make everyone take notice – and take action.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) conducted a special administration of the LTT reading assessment in 2022 following its most recent assessment in 2020 in order to understand student achievement during COVID-19. The results are alarming and show what we all feared would happen to a generation of learners who lost up to 2 years of formal classroom instruction: average student scores declined 5 points in reading - the largest average score decline in reading since 1990. And, reading scores for students from low-income households eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch declined by 7 points, while the scores of their peers from higher-income families declined by only 3 points, further heightening the already concerning literacy gap for under-resourced students.
This data confirms our worst fears about the impact of the pandemic on our nation’s children and demonstrate the urgency to rally together and take action. Reading Is Fundamental has been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure children have choice of and access to books and literacy resources that they can relate to. Rather than become discouraged, we have expanded our partnerships with local literacy advocates, classroom teachers, and community organizations to provide them with the resources they need to encourage these children to read, learn, and grow.
Today, I am encouraging everyone to rally around this issue and work with RIF to drive our nation to prioritize children’s literacy. We need to invest in putting books into the hands and homes of children, especially those in under-resourced communities. We need to invest in supporting teachers and families to build children’s love of reading. We need to invest in our children by providing them with the fundamental building block for success – reading. Now more than ever we need to spark the joy of reading for every child until every child reads.
Since its founding, Reading Is Fundamental has been committed to the power of books. We know that the joy of reading is a critical motivator for children on their reading journey. Join us to ensure that every child has access to the books and literacy support they need for success in school and in life. We are on the ground in communities across the country making sure children have books to own, that they get to choose the books that speak to them, and that educators and families have the support they need to cultivate a love of reading.
Now is the time for our partners to join us with increased commitment. Take action today by donating to RIF (www.RIF.org/Donate) or reach out to our Programs team for literacy resources to drive local impact in your own communities (Email: LiteracyNetwork@RIF.org).
Together, we MUST change this trend and ensure our nation’s children are on a path to read and succeed.