Around a million Australian children are at risk of reading failure. That’s roughly one in four students in our schools.
Concerned your child might be — or become — one of them? Rest assured, it’s not because there’s something wrong with the children. The number of children who have an actual learning disability that makes reading very difficult account for only about 20% of the million children with low reading ability.
Nor is the poor reading standard due to a lack of funding. Billions of dollars have been spent over the past decade trying — and failing — to improve literacy levels.
So what is the problem? Largely, it’s that children can’t read properly simply because they have not been taught properly.
Forty years’ worth of solid scientific research has shown that some ways of teaching reading are better than others. It would make sense for schools to use the teaching methods that are most likely to be effective for the greatest number of children — but this is not always happening.
Teaching degrees don’t always equip teachers with the most effective methods for teaching reading. A survey by the Australian Primary Principals Association found that 54% of new primary school teachers could not teaching reading to a reasonable level.