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What are the Best Practices for Reading Instruction in Secondary Schools? Proposal


Poor reading skills prevent many students from graduating from high school, completing college, and dealing with challenges in the work place. Developing students’ reading skills should be the first priority for the middle grades and high school, because it defines learning in every subject including mathematics and sciences.

Since, reading with comprehension varies in different subjects, all teachers should be capable of assisting students in understanding different texts.

Public schools generally do not teach reading after the elementary grades and, therefore, by ninth grade, many struggling readers are destined to become high school dropouts. By college, one in four freshmen must take remedial classes and few of these students finish high school (Adelman, 2009). Low reading levels result in a work force that cannot be employed and cost states a lot of money.

For instance, high school dropouts in America from a 2008 class alone lost $ 319.6 billion in lifetime income because of low education levels (“Federal Support,” 2007.) Reading skills do not advance automatically, even for students who read at grade level when they begin the middle grades.

While most students continue to develop speaking skills naturally, they do not develop advanced reading skills on their own, particularly the ones they need for success in high school and college.

Students in the middle grades and high school need direct, explicit instructions on how to read, learn, and analyze information in key fields. The critical and immediate need to improve adolescent reading will require states and school districts to shift their focus from other priorities and give reading a greater share of available time, resources, and attention.

Problem Statement

Nationwide, students in secondary schools are failing to develop reading skills they need to meet higher academic standards later in their educational career (Fletcher & Lyon, 1998). This has affected learning in nearly all subjects, since literacy is a major prerequisite in unlocking subject knowledge across the syllabus.

The low levels of literacy have made it difficult for secondary school students to master their course work accurately and they end up being unprepared to attend high learning institutions or even deal with challenges in the work place.

Remarkably, about three quarter of all secondary school students cannot recognize the main idea of what they learn in school. Most of them have significant reading problems and lack the skills required to understand complicated contents in the curriculum. Some due to the incapability to read well do not even reach the 12th grade and end up dropping out from school.

Purpose of the project

The purpose of the project will be to look at the current situation in our learning system and offer recommendations that instructors can use to improve reading among adolescents in secondary schools. The main aim will be to provide sufficient information so that secondary school teachers can have a clear picture of the steps needed for effective reading.

The project will discuss the current state of instructor in helping students learn reading skills. It will also review and illustrate the knowledge base and skills that instructors must have if they are to succeed in teaching secondary school students how to read well. Finally, the project will make recommendations that can help teachers and students on how to teach and learn reading skills.

The project will require use of qualitative data collection methods including interviews and direct observations. The data collected will be analyzed and interpreted by using ANOVA and Multiple Regression.

Need for the study

The study will help boost reading skills in secondary schools since this is a significant aspect in enhancing student learning. The number of struggling and poor readers is very high in the current society and this study will try to address the various initiatives that can be applied to correct the situation.

Students have different literacy needs and this requires use of different approaches to meet needs of different students. The study will identify practical approaches that can assist adolescents in secondary schools to acquire reading skills.

Research Question

The study will answer the question, “Why are the students in middle school and high school failing to thrive in reading?” information for the study will be drawn from middle and high school learners as well from the instructors in these institutions.

The target audience for the study will include teachers and other members of staff who have direct contact with learners such as counselors. From the study, we will learn that students are required to work hard to attain good reading skills, and teachers are required to help them in acquiring these skills.

Literature Review

Reading is the basic skill that is needed in formal education. Research has shown that if children do not learn how to read at an early age, then, they are unlikely to learn basic reading skills at all (Blachman, 1997). If they lack the basic reading skills then chances of the child, mastering other skills and knowledge will be low and the child will have a hard time in school.

It is said that, low reading achievement is the main reason why people perform dismally in school. Low performance in school harms students and causes the public to lose confidence in the school system. That is why public schools will never be regarded as successful and people will always advocate for their closure (Evers, 1998).

It has been found that learning how to read and comprehending the text plays a major role in advancing in various subjects. For example, performance in science related subjects is influenced by the ability of the student to understanding the information presented. In the contemporary society, reading and writing proficiency are the most crucial skills required for academic success, personal autonomy and attaining a secure job.

This calls for schools to teach children how to read (Pressley, 1998). There are various methods that children learn how to read and what they require. Learning how to read at an early age leads to accomplishment of many things.

For instance, a child who learns how to read before the end of his first grade, his exposed to language in books and attains a vast knowledge of the world. Difficulties in learning how to read undermine vocabulary growth, mastering a language, writing skills and knowledge about the world (Snow, Burns & Griffin, 1998).

Learning to read is not an easy task or a natural thing for many children (Adams, 1990).Teaching how to read is a job that requires trained professionals. Acquiring reading skills takes several years, and this can only be done through extensive studying and supervised practice (Osborn & Lehr, 1998). To attain skills needed for reading and comprehension, students are required to work hard.

It is also important for teachers to help students in acquiring reading skills. However, many teacher’s claim of being unprepared for the task and they do not feel that it is their responsibility to teach students how to read. Research has shown that there is a gap between what teachers need if they are to teach reading skills and what they have at their disposal.

Schools are ill equipped with the necessary tools needed by the teachers to teach reading skills and this continues to make it hard for students to get the help they need to learn these skills (Osborn & Lehr, 1998).

Recent studies carried in California show that 49% of students whose parents are college-educated have difficulties in learning. NAEP in 2007 showed that 69% of high school students lack the basic skills for reading and comprehending texts meant for their grade (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 1997).

The report also shows that many students in high school are unprepared and lack the literacy demands of employment.

Researchers have found that some teachers employ dubious methods, and adjust their teaching methods rather than helping the students acquire the needed reading skills (Evers, 1998).

Teachers have also been accused of concentrating primarily on covering the content of their subjects oblivious to the fact that many of their students have reading difficulties. They increase the depth and content of subject and this only complicate learning for the students (Adams, Treiman & Pressley, 1998).

Many children lack the basic skills of reading and writing. According to Cramer and Ellis close to 20% of students in secondary schools, have problems in learning how to read (Cramer & Ellis, 1996).

They continue and say that many of the students in secondary schools cannot fully understand what they read and therefore cannot effectively learn. According to the United States Office of Technology, high percentages (25%) of adults in the country do not have the basic literacy skills that are required at work (Cramer & Ellis, 1996).

This shows that many students in secondary schools lack mentors or people who can help them in acquiring reading skills away from school. Many people who fail in life are mostly people who cannot read (Evers, 1998). These realities have made the National Institute of Health to mark reading and difficulties in learning as one of the biggest concerns in public health.

Secondary school children from poor, minority homes who go to low performing schools have a hard time trying to learn how to read. It is said that African- American, Hispanic, Non-native, and students from poor families are prone to having difficulties in reading far more than children from white middle class families (Snow, Burns & Griffin, 1998).

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 60 to 70% of these groups have difficulties in reading. The figures from NAEP explain poor academic performance among the minorities (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 1997). It also explains why they are few in highly ranked professions.

However, this does not mean that learning difficulties only affect people from these groups. Learning how to read does not only depend on the environment where a child is brought up.

For instance, many secondary school students from rich backgrounds have problems in learning how to read (Patton & Holmes, 1998). This is similar to children from poor background who may also experience the same problems when learning how to read.



A small sample of the target population will be used. The sampling of the units of analysis that will be used in the project is non-probability sampling since only schools, which have high levels of illiteracy will be used as part of the sampling frame.

The sample that will be used in the study is thus a convenience sample, since it will be drawn in terms of availability and convenience (Creswell, 2003). The researcher in the study will make scientific generalizations since the sample will be fully representative.

Data collection

Since the study aims at gaining an in depth understanding of the behavior of students in relation to learning and the reasons that govern their reading behaviors, then qualitative data collection methods will be used. This data collection method will provide information on the case being studied as well as any other observations.

To achieve its objectives, the study will make use of interviews and observations. Interview data will be obtained from students, teachers, and other staff members over a period. A pre-tested interview procedure comprising of several questions will be used and the answers analyzed. In observation, the reading behavior of every learner will be monitored and conclusions made (Creswell, 2003).

Statistical design

The statistical design that will be used in the project is a correlation design. This will describe the statistical relationship between reading in secondary schools and how it increases the literacy of the students. The association between students and teachers in reading will be estimated and compared to the average achievement of every learner.

The statistical technique, ANOVA, will be used to measure whether this relationships are numerically connected to improved reading skills. Multiple Regression analysis will then be used to create a multiple regression analysis that will be used to predict improvements in student achievement (Creswell, 2003).

Description of the project

The results of the project will explain why students in secondary schools are failing to develop the reading skills they need to meet higher academic standards later in their educational career. As a result of the research, teaching methods employed by teachers will be adjusted to help students acquire the required skills.

This will influence educational policy decisions since teachers will be required to drop their dubious teaching methods. It is therefore clear that the results of the study will be implemented by ensuring that teachers do not only concentrate on covering the content of their subjects but ensuring that their students have no reading difficulties.


Adams, M.J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Adams, M.J., Treiman, R., & Pressley, M. (1998). Reading, writing, and literacy. New York: Wiley.

Adelman, C. (2009). The Truth about Remedial Work. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Blachman, B. (1997). Foundations of Reading Acquisition and Dyslexia: Implications for Early Intervention. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Cramer, S., & Ellis, W. (1996). Learning disabilities: Life-long issues. Baltimore: Paul Brookes.

Creswell, W. J. (2003). Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches. Calif: Sage Publishers.

Evers, W.M. (1998). What’s gone wrong in America’s classrooms? Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.

“Federal Support for Adolescent Literacy.” (2007). A Solid Investment. Issue Brief, Alliance for Excellent Education.

Fletcher, J.M., & Lyon, G.R. (1998). Reading: A research-based approach. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.

National Assessment of Educational Progress (1997). Reading: A First Look. Washington: National Center for Education Statistics.

Osborn, J., & Lehr, F. (1998). Literacy for all: Issues in teaching and learning. New York: Guilford Press.

Patton, S., & Holmes, M. (1998). The keys to literacy. Washington: Council for Basic Education.

Pressley, M. (1998). Reading instruction that works: The case for balanced teaching. New York: Guilford Press

Snow, C., Burns, S., and Griffin, P. (1998).Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington: National Academy Press.

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