In New York State, the Department of Education just reported that reading scores drop across the state as students enter middle school.
The New York Times articles quotes the New York education commisioner, Richard P. Mills:
“The overall pattern is disturbing,” Mr. Mills said at a news conference in Albany. “Literacy is the problem. This pattern is not inevitable. This pattern has to change. All youngsters have to emerge from middle school ready for high school. We still have a lot of work to do.” He added: “We have to do something different. We have to change our tactics, our curriculum, our approach.”
Something different? How about encouraging children and teens to Read for the Fun of It® – not just for tests and scores, but to learn about subjects that they’re interested in and to explore new worlds and adventures. As librarians, we know that literacy improves when teens read for pleasure on a regular basis – heck, it’s one of the 40 developmental assets for adolescents. While teachers and administrators are bound by the No Child Left Behind Act and the increased emphasis on tests, librarians have an opportunity to reach out to kids that are overwhelmed by middle school and the pressures that come along with it.
While getting ready for Teen Read Week™, look up what’s happening with your state or school district’s reading scores. Discussing how the school or public library can help develop teens’ lifelong literacy skills with teachers and administrators can be a valuable promotion.