Indiana Daily Student

Reading scores for state's students declining steadily

Indiana fourth and eighth graders' reading scores are declining, according to an Issue Alert by The Indiana Youth Institute.\nPresident and CEO of The Indiana Youth Institute Bill Stanczykiewicz said even though students' math scores are increasing, reading score have steadily declined. The Indiana Youth Institute aims at promoting the healthy development of children and youth by serving the institutions and people of Indiana who work on their behalf, according to their Web site.\nStanczykiewicz said the Alert, titled "Can Your Child Read This? For Too Many Hoosier Kids, the Answer is 'No.'" was compiled because of the "remarkable findings." Over a 13 year period, math scores have risen by about 20 percentage points while reading scores have declined by 4 percentage points.\nIndiana is slightly ahead of the national average, but Stanczykiewicz said "that's not much to boast about." He sites the rising popularity of television, video games and the Internet as causes of the problem. Additionally, he said more parents are working and have less time to read to their children.\nStanczykiewicz's first recommendation to combat the problem is for parents to spend more time reading to their children and reading themselves.\n"It really matters how much children see their parents read," Stanczykiewicz said. "Next I would recommend visiting the public library. Every library has a summer reading program and most offer prizes or incentives for children."\nMonroe County Public Library Children's Librarian Mary Frasier said one of the library's goals is to encourage children to read and stay involved in the library over the summer in order to promote literacy. \nAccording to the Issue Alert, children that read as little as 15 minutes every day can improve their reading level. \nFrasier said it's nice to see a study like this released that quantifies the reading problem. \n"I wish the declined reading levels weren't the case though," Frasier said. "Literacy is the key to success in so many issues of a child's life, an adult's life for that matter. It's a big deal."\nThe library partners with all of the schools, both public and private, in Monroe County by providing them with information on the summer reading program for students. \n"We want the students to come in every week," Frasier said. "We want their continued presence in the library throughout the summer."\nThe library offers interactive media, programs and challenges to engage young readers. \n"We want children to come into the library and have fun," Frasier said. "We want the content to be important too. We want to make the learning connection."\nStanczykiewicz suggests that college students interested in combating the reading problem become involved in a mentor program that improves reading.\n"It's important to improve reading," Stanczykiewicz said. "It's also important to be seen reading. Kids are like sponges, and reading is vitally important."\nThe study is available in its entirety at www.iyi.org.

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