PHOENIX – A new report released today by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Center for Public Education (CPE), examines the key role of informational reading in preparing students for college, the workplace and day-to-day life. Yet while U.S. students are overall good readers of literature, CPE’s analysis shows that their performance drops dramatically when tasked with reading non-literary texts.
The report, “Beyond Fiction: The Importance of Reading for Information” found that the ability to understand and retrieve information, whether from an encyclopedia, a billing statement or the back of a prescription bottle, is a necessary life skill, but that many American adults are weak in this area. Roughly 30 million adults in this country cannot read or understand a newspaper article, while another 27 million cannot follow directions on a street map.
Poor literacy skills often lead to a host of negative outcomes including fewer unemployment opportunities and depressed wages for the individual (including lost taxes), more demand for social services, and lower voter participation in their communities.
Other findings include:
- U.S. fourth-graders score high on reading for “literary experience” – only Finland’s students outperform them by statistically significant margins. However, the ranking for U.S. students falls when it comes to informational reading, slipping behind four other countries.
- The gap widens with age – U.S. 15-year-olds are outscored by just five nations in literary reading, but drop behind their peers in 14 countries when asked “to acquire and use information” from written texts.
Heidi Vega, Arizona School Boards Association
Heidi Vega or 602.254.1100