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97% Satisfactory Literacy
for American 15-year-olds in 25 Years or Less:

An Achievable Goal but Only if Set!
 

The Need for 97% Satisfactory Literacy?  Obvious, unfortunately.  Anyone who has not read about studies that demonstrate the vast numbers of young adults who cannot satisfactorily read and write and anyone who hasn't encountered these unfortunate people most likely will never be convinced of the need.  Those who have read the studies or read about the studies need no convincing.  The exact definitions of what constitutes satisfactory literacy should be left up to the decisions of the initial planning group for The Center for the Development of Reading Comprehension Delivery Systems.

Why the 15-Year-Old Measuring Point?

  1. In most states students may quit school the moment they reach 16.  To have an age older than 15 for the measuring point would be impractical.  We need to be able to obtain satisfactory determinations of the true percentage of those who have attained satisfactory literacy.  It will be much easier to do this if the testing occurs before age 16.
  2. Attaining a satisfactory reading level at the end of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grades does NOT in and of itself mean that the student will be able to read satisfactorily adult reading materials upon leaving school.
  3. By focusing upon the end product, the best minds in the field of reading certainly should be able to come up with a program that fits the natural continuum of the learning-to-read process that extends beyond the early elementary years.
  4. Students who achieve a minimum reading level of 10.0 by the time they are 16 rarely regress to an unsatisfactory level.

Why Set This Goal?

  1. Educational, business, and government leaders advocate the use of behavioral objectives with measurable long-term and short-term goals.
  2. We never would have put a man on the moon had not President Kennedy set a specific goal with a limited but attainable time for completion.
  3. As long as we have no definite goal, plan, or length of time to achieve it, a satisfactory level of literacy will not be achieved.
  4. Why 25 years?  There is nothing magic about the number 25, but it is an easily remembered number and it allows ample time to achieve the goal or to determine the extent of its attainability.

Why a Challenge?

  1. Accepting and meeting challenges is an old establish American tradition.
  2. Without specific challenges the status quo remains intact.

Why a Center?

Despite all the advances of technology, there is still a need for the human element to respond.  We still need a physical location at which the best minds can meet, interact, and help one another achieve the goals.  At present, AVKO believes that the center should be located on the campus of a university that is already equipped with an extensive library and has existing facilities that can be utilized by the Center and would also act as the fiscal agent for grants.  What is your choice for the host university?

Why Development and Not Study?

"Our knowledge of basic processes, while not complete, is sufficient to allow us to begin to apply knowledge about comprehension and instruction to issues of reading comprehension instruction.  Moreover, even if we did not have the benefit of basic process knowledge, we should still begin the applied effort.  Literacy is too important a concern to allow us the luxury of waiting for further advances in basic research" (P. David Pearson, A Context for Instructional Research on Reading Comprehension, Center for the Study of Reading, University of Illinois, 1982., p.1).

Why Reading Comprehension Delivery Systems?

  1. All major studies conducted by the Center for the Study of Reading and by the Institute for Research on Teaching (Michigan State University) seem to indicate:
    1. Teachers tend to teach according to the reading system already in place.
    2. The systems already in place have little or no real instruction in reading comprehension.
  2. The publishing industry (at a conference sponsored by the Center for the Study of Reading) has already said that its major responsibility is to its stockholders and that they publish what schools will buy.  In other words, publishers are not about to spend stockholders' money to research and develop a delivery system.
  3. The best minds in the reading field should be able to develop an adequate delivery system for reading comprehension if they are given the money and the place in which to do so.  If they can't, we cannot expect publishers who lack the expertise of reading researchers to spend millions of dollars in today's economy on research and development.
  4. The development of delivery systems does not have to ignore already existing commercial delivery systems.  Some publishers would welcome "free" help in a cooperative endeavor.

Why Should the Center be Composed of Representatives of ALL Organizations Interested in Solving the Reading Problem?

  1. By having each interested organization represented, the Center would have an automatic system for disseminating information and for getting varied feedback.  
  2. Different delivery systems can be developed and tested that reflect the different philosophies of the different organizations.  
  3. The clash of ideologies ("The Reading Wars") may well prove beneficial to building systems that reflect the best ideas from opposing points of view.
  4. Funding may be easier when it is spread among different organizations that would also be more interested in contributing if they knew they were being represented.

Why Multiple Funding Sources?

  1. To achieve relative autonomy for the developers.  No one organization funding the project would be able to control it.  Influence, yes.  Control, no.
  2. To broaden the base of involvement.  To let the American people know that we as a nation are doing something tangible about the literacy problem.
  3. To ensure against the possibility of the project ending suddenly because the primary funding source dried up.

Steps and General Time Table?

1st Year:  Incorporation, securing of tax-exempt status, securing initial pledges of cooperation from reading organizations, foundations, state departments of education, and the U.S. Department of Education.

2nd Year: Center for the Development of Reading Comprehension Delivery Systems to be in place with leaders drawing up initial long range plans.

3-12th Years: Delivery systems being created at basic rate of three years worth of materials each year.  Experimental implementation and modification.  Continual active evaluation of between 3 and 7 different delivery systems.

13th-14th Years:  Selling of the most promising delivery systems to schools and/or publishers.

15th-25th Years: Supervision, monitoring, modifying.  Evaluation of 15-year-olds should reveal 97% satisfactory literacy at this point.  If it is achieved before the 25 years is up, the Center will have accomplished its goal and will disband.

There have been thousands of people who have visited this page, but NO replies from any university, any university professor, U.S. Department of Education official, or reading researcher.  If you personally know of anyone who can help us get the ear of any responsible party,  please contact them for us.

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