Regression of Reading

In class the other day, we watched a Ted Talk where Geoffrey Canada discussed education in America. He mentioned schools have many different issues that affect students and their learning, yet these schools continue to implement the same methods. By using the same methods, Canada described how there was no possible way for these problems with learning to be resolved. One of these issues he described with learning was how students’ reading and math skills deteriorate over the long summer break because they are not actively engaging those skills.

Canada’s comments really resonated with me and I began to think about if I had seen any of these regressions in my own life. Sure, I remember the first week of school was always a slightly difficult transition, but I never really felt that my reading skills ever deteriorated. I thought that maybe my skills stayed up to par because I loved to read. But, I never really felt that any of my peers’ skills had dropped over the summer either. It was then I realized that many schools in my area had programs that combatted this regression.

In middle school, we had required summer reading. We were required to read at least three books and then write a summary of each of the plots on an index card. We then presented these summaries one the first day of school for a grade. We were allowed to read any book as long as we wrote a summary of it. By allowing students to choose what books they would read, it allowed them to read books that were appropriate for their reading levels. Some choose large complicated books while others choose shorter and simpler ones. This system allowed students to read books that captured their interests. I never had any trouble finishing my reading assignment over the summer because I read books that truly interested me.  But requiring students to read over the summer, it appears as though schools in my area were attempting to combat this regression in reading skills that Canada talked about.

Other middle schools in my area used a different approach to combat the regression of skills. Many of them switched to year-round schedules which eliminated the long three month break Canada describes as part of the issue with reading regression. The lack of this break combated the regression of reading skills because children did not have as long of a gap between schools sessions. Although a student’s skills may regress slightly during the breaks they had, I do not believe that it would affect them much in the long scheme of schooling.

When I reached high school, another program was in place that appeared to prevent the regression of reading skills. Each summer we were required to read a specific book that related to the curriculum. Most of the books required were classics like, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Les Misérables. We would only have to read one or two of these books each summer. During the first week back at school, we would have a test on the main points of the story to make sure we read the books and understood them. Again, schools in my area were attempting to combat this regression in reading skills by requiring texts to be read over the summer.

Although these methods worked in schools in my area, I am not sure if they would have worked in other areas. We were required to read three books of our own choosing in middle school. The majority of children in my schools had easy access to a library, but I do not believe this method would work in areas where a library is not easily accessible. Also, in high school we were required to read and understand some classic novels over the summer, but this method would not have worked if some students were not at that reading level to understand these books. Although these methods seem to have worked in my area to prevent the regression of reading skills, I do not believe they could be implemented throughout country to prevent the regression of reading skills over summer break.


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One Response to Regression of Reading

  1. leighahall says:

    In high school, based on the texts you named, I am guessing this was an AP or honors English class. In this case, while the summer reading would certainly help, it was likely not intended to prevent reading regression. For students in AP or honors classes, reading regression is not something anyone is particularly concerned about – these are the students who are likely to read on their own anyways.

    The reading regression is more likely to happen with kids who have a history of academic reading difficulties and have little to no access to books or libraries over the summer.


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