Handbook of Schooling in Urban America

By Stanley William Rothstein | Go to book overview

23
Reading in the Urban Environment

Norma Inabinette

By 2000, we've got to, first, ensure that every child starts school ready to learn; second, raise the high school graduate rate to 90 percent; the third, ensure that each American student leaving the 4th, 8th, and 12th grades can demonstrate competence in the core subjects; fourth, make our students first in the world in math and science achievements; fifth, ensure that every American adult is literate and has the skills necessary to compete in a global economy and exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship; and sixth, liberate every American school from drugs and violence so that schools encourage learning.1

Reading is a critical skill necessary not only for success in school but for survival in the world. Reading ability in the twenty-first century will not only determine the quality of life, as it has in the past but will influence the very existence of it. As we move into the communication age, one's ability to process information in written form will determine how well one can carry out the normal daily activities that thus far have not demanded high literacy skills. It is now believed that by the year 2000, the average American must have reading skills at the fourteenth grade level to be a fully functioning citizen.2

While the demands for increased reading ability grow steadily, too many of our school-age children are handicapped because they lack the basic skill of reading.3 This lack of ability to process print is seen most dramatically in the urban school setting, where both the quality of the schools and life in general make learning a challenge. In order to understand the impact a lack of reading skills can have, it is important to understand what reading is and what factors support or hinder growth in reading.


READING: A DEFINITION

Reading is the process of constructing meaning from print. This process is complicated and complex, requiring the smooth coordination of several inter-

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