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Researchers: National literacy rates decline during pandemic

Posted at 9:00 AM, Sep 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-06 12:00:15-04

(KERO) — Researchers have found that literacy rates have declined during the pandemic.

Researchers have found when it comes to reading, every minute counts. Meet Amira, the AI learning tool that assesses beginning readers and seeks out potential skill gaps correcting them in real time.

“In the early years in school students are learning how to read. And then over time, you have to know how to read in order to learn everything else," said Matthew Fields, Supplemental intervention solutions general manager.

The software is being used in 300 districts across the U.S. including in Washington, D.C., by the DC Public Library and Public Schools.

Looking at students in grades 3-8, researchers at the Northwest Education Association found literacy gains were 3% to 6% lower in the 2020 to 2021 school year than a typical term. Grades 3-5, the younger students, saw the biggest impact

“Early reading success, we've known this for a very long time, it's linked really strongly to better life outcomes, including lifelong earning potential," said Miah Daughtery, director of content advocacy and design for literacy at the Northwest Education Association

"On the flip side, students who struggle to read and struggle to learn to read in and beyond third grade, face a steep uphill climb.”

It’s not just kids reading for themselves, parents are also part of the equation.

A study from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers shows “the rate in which parents of children 3-5 years old read to their child dropped throughout the pandemic. From 85% before its start to 66% by the Spring of 2021.”

Researchers hypothesized to Newsy that parents may just be “worn down” by the stress.

Experts say each child and district will require different solutions to fix any literacy losses but there are a myriad of practical ways parents can reinvigorate readers and themselves.