U.S. Literacy: UD Educator Cites "Huge Inequalities" In Reading Performance

July 09, 1997

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Only Finnish children read better than U.S. kids--yet, too many 17-year-old minority children read at roughly the same level as the average 13-year-old white child, a University of Delaware educator reported July 10, when he urged U.S. policymakers to help correct such "huge inequalities."

Three key barriers--different language practices among lower- income versus higher-income parents, different teaching practices in schools and different levels of reading outside of school--prevent many American children from improving their skills, said Richard L. Venezky, UD's Unidel Professor of Educational Studies and past president of the Reading Hall of Fame.

Speaking before the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Education and the Workforce, Venezky recommended four steps for improving U.S. reading performance. Most notably, he called for state and local efforts to help parents in high-poverty areas foster children's language and cognitive development. He also recommended continued support for systemic school reform and high curriculum and achievement standards; community-based involvement in reading advancement; and a comprehensive analysis of reading research.

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* Call for a copy of Venezky's testimony, to be delivered at 10 a.m. July 10, Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

University of Delaware

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