PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A new report card is out, and it shows because of remote learning our children are far behind in reading, and without intervention, some children may never catch up.
“Some kids have missed two years of instruction in the building and those kids are six months and in some cases two years behind grade level,” said Sara Rich, a former principal and CEO of Just Right Reader.
The pandemic era literacy report card is in for Virginia and the numbers are alarming. When it comes to phonics awareness for kindergarteners in 2019, 17.9% were at high risk for reading difficulties, and one year later more than 27% were at risk.
For first graders, the numbers jumped from 18.3% to a staggering 28.5%.
Researchers say the deficiencies are most pronounced among minorities and the economically disadvantaged.
“If you’re not reading by third grade oftentimes kids struggle throughout life,” Rich said.
Rich has come up with a package that could help children catch up before it’s too late.
“Our message to families and school districts is to get kids reading decodables and decodable texts are texts that kids can sound out the more that they know their sounds.
The more that they sound them out when they are reading, the better off they will be as readers.
“Decodables means that kids can read 80% of it just by sounding it out, so that if I know the sound for “T” for ‘S’ and for ‘A,’ they can sound out the word “sat.”
Rich says her program is in schools across America, including at Holland Road Elementary School in Virginia Beach
“[School districts] buy the books from us and they are given to families. We wrap every single box that goes to homes because the whole idea behind this is we want to unwrap literacy and make it fun so that it feels like it’s your birthday,” Rich said.
And, the program offers additional motivation for minority children who are struggling.
“All of our books have kids who are representative of all Americans kids — they are brown, they are black and they are white. They are a little bit of everything knowing that when kids can see themselves in books, the more successful they will be,” Rich said.