National assessment shows more K-12 students struggling to read

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos addressed reporters at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. with some sobering news this week. New results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also called the Nation's Report Card," show that fourth and eighth graders in most states have stalled or declined in reading proficiency during the last decade. A full two-thirds of students did not score proficient in reading on the most recent test. One third of the nation's fourth-graders tested "below basic."

"Let's be honest about what below basic really is," DeVos said. "They can't read. In case you're missing the obvious: That, my friends, is the headline."

APM Reports correspondent Emily Hanford has been covering how reading is taught in the nation's classrooms for the last several years. She's made three audio documentaries about why so many kids are struggling to read and what science says about how our brains learn to read — and why so many schools don't teach reading based on that science.

Hanford talked with the Educate podcast about the latest test scores and the response from educators and politicians. She also talked about the lessons learned in Mississippi, one of only two states to have made dramatic improvements in reading scores.

For more, check out the resources page for our documentaries Hard to Read and Hard Words. Also, be sure to check out the footnotes with links embedded in the web story of At a Loss for Words.

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