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Why Johnny (Still) Can’t Read

From the February 2006 issue of Edutopia magazine…

Even as books take a back seat to technology, reading is more important than ever in an increasingly complicated, information-rich world. Basic literacy no longer suffices. In higher education and the workplace, young people must handle an array of complex texts — narratives, repair manuals, scholarly journals, maps, graphics, and more — across technologies. They need to evaluate, synthesize, and communicate effectively.

Unfortunately, more than 8 million U.S. students in grades 4-12 struggle to read, write, and comprehend adequately. Only three out of ten eighth graders read at or above grade level, according to the 2004 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Readers who fall significantly behind risk school and workplace failure. In 2003, only three-fourths of high school students graduated in four years, the National Center for Education Statistics reports; the previous year, just over half of African American and Hispanic students graduated at all.

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