Essay on The Crisis in Adolescent Literacy

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Finding a definition of literacy is not as easy as it sounds. The Webster definition says that to be literate is to be” able to read and write.” But to some researchers, this definition is too simplistic, leading to multiple models of literacy. Most Americans adhere to the autonomous model, which falls closest to the standard, dictionary definition. Believers in this form say that literacy is a cognitive activity that students learn like any other basic skill. It has a set of proficiencies that

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(Hill, Tyson, & Bromell, 2009) During this period, schools often begin “tracking” students, as well, determining if they will end up on the college preparatory course or in vocational classes. For this reason, it’s especially important to intervene with struggling and reluctant readers. However, much of the research that teachers and schools utilize to attempt to aid these students is often based on research with elementary schools and families. Research based on adolescents is limited, and some researchers criticize that it is often based on theory instead of empirical investigation (Hill, Tyson, & Bromell, 2009; Lesaux & Kieffer, 2010; Klauda, 2009) By disregarding the changes and differences in learning styles between adolescents and young children, many educators and researchers who apply studies meant for primary students to older readers might overlook that reading is a skill in which people can increase their competency throughout a lifetime. (Cantrell, Almasi, Carter, Rintamaa, & Madden, 2010)

The consequences of poor reading can be severe. Only 70 percent of eighth-grade students who enter high school complete it, and 1.2 million students fail to graduate each year (Langer, 2009) The National Assessment of Educational Progress
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