Research into Student Reading Engagement:
Background and Need, Rationale, etc.
According to data from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), 36 percent of fourth grade students nationwide are reading at grade level, and that number drops to 34% once students are measured again in eighth grade. It is clear that too many students are reading below grade level on a national scale. Students who are English Language learners (ELL) are even more likely to score lower than their native speaking classmates. Fourth grade ELL reading scores are nearly 40 points below the average scores of native speakers.
The problem is that a large portion of students (both nationally and locally) do not read at grade level. According to NAEP data, California fourth grades are scoring seven percent below the national average on their reading assessments. Even students who read at grade level have not shown increases over recent years. This may be due to an overall increase in ELL populations as well as more ELL students being mainstreamed into grade level classrooms. It may also be a symptom of the switch to using the new Common Core State Standards.
The percentage of students at my school who have been redesignated as English Proficient has dropped over the last two years. The exact reasons for this drop are not immediately clear and were not studied as part of this project. Approximately 70% of the local 7th grade students last year scored basic or below basic on both their Winter and Spring Scholastic Reading Index (SRI) tests.
The importance of this research study is as follows: it is clear that many students are not performing well when assessed on their reading. It is logical to connect this to their levels of engagement. Since literacy levels affect student learning in all content areas, it is important to find ways to boost student engagement levels for reading.