Is it possible for students today to perform better than their 1960 peers? It would be easy to conclude that this is the case, given the technological advances in education. “yes.”However, new research indicates that this is not true when it comes to efficiency in reading.

International Literacy Association published this research in 2011. It compares the silent comprehension of students in the United States (grades 2-12) with data from 1960.

Alexandra Spichtig (Chief Research Officer at The University of Michigan) stated that one key finding was that students tend to fall behind as they progress through the grades. Reading PlusAuthor of the study.

The study revealed that students in second grade today are comparable with their peers 50 years ago. However by high school graduation, their comprehension-based silent reading rates have slowed to 19 percent compared to their 1960 peers.

“What we know — and the data underscore this — is that for many students, the progression to efficient silent reading does not develop naturally. Many students need structured silent reading instruction,”Mark Taylor is the Chief Executive Officer of Reading Plus. This web-based silent reading program is designed for schools.

Silent reading instruction can be implemented at school or at home for many benefits.

* Expanded vocabulary

* Improved comprehension

* Increased efficiency

* Enhanced reading enjoyment

* Improved writing skills

Experts agree with the statement that students who do not practice silent reading in the classroom and at home will continue struggling. Their literacy rates will continue falling or falling behind.

“Effective reading instruction must integrate fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension practice tailored to meet each student’s unique needs. This study demonstrates that as long as structured silent reading practice is neglected in this country, the literacy problem is likely to continue,” Taylor adds.

Although researchers aren’t able to pinpoint why silent reading efficiency has declined from 50 years back, it seems that students who take part in structured silent practice are more proficient readers and develop a love of reading that lasts beyond high school graduation.

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