Perfect Storm for Illiteracy


A Perfect Storm for Poor Literacy: Poor readers, weak vocabulary, and bad spellers

In four years of working with middle and high school teachers, poor readers, weak vocabulary, and bad spellers were all over. Poor grammar is also widespread.

But of the five components for effective reading instruction, a rich vocabulary is the key to
learning more. Apparently, little of that is taught in middle and high school. [ACED]

  • 70% of 10-Year-olds are now in “learning poverty,” unable to read and understand a simple sentence. [World Bank, 2022]
  • NAEP testing shows U.S. education achievement slides backward. A substantial decrease in reading scores among the nation’s eighth graders. [Hechinger, 2019]
  • A study in 2019 shows high school graduates have inferior vocabulary skills. Despite years of education up to college, vocabulary scores declined. [PsyNews]
  • In 2009, a survey by Ipsos MORI showed more than half of Americans are bad spellers. [R.P. News]

What fuels the illiteracy storm in America?

1. Demphasizing traditional methods

Those who advocate for emphasizing phonics, such as literary expert Lucy Calkins, have contributed to poor readers in middle school.

The need to lower curriculum standards to accommodate failing students has discouraged a richer learning experience in the USA.


2. American vs. Asian culture

Education in Asia is primarily teacher-centered and traditional. A holistic approach to discipline includes a heavy emphasis on nationalism and class discipline.

For example, school uniforms are enforced in most Asian schools. Rights and priviliges are played down and some countries allow corporal punishment. These, in turn, translate to higher levels of submission to authority.


3. A watershed moment: the iPad in 2010

The iPad rollout in high schools beginning in 2010 undeniably has worsened literacy. It became the standard for reading and writing because it was convenient, especially with amazing apps that made learning more fun.

However, iPad also robbed the joy of reading. It discouraged critical thinking and encouraged a shorter attention span that resulted in poor comprehension. [Allcot, 2021]

4. Leniency, rights, and privileges

With more rights, privileges, and leniency accorded to high school students, teaching the value of patience and endurance is impossible. The result is a perfect storm of an “entitled generation” who are impatience and lazy.

An “entitled generation” who are impatience and lazy.

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