Adolescents entering the adult world in the 21st century will read and write more than at any other time in human history. They will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens, and conduct their personal lives. They will need literacy to cope with the flood of information they will find everywhere they turn. They will need literacy to feed their imaginations so they can create the world of the future. In a complex and sometimes even dangerous world, their ability to read will be crucial. Continual instruction beyond the early grades is needed. Many students reach middle school and high school without adequate literacy skills. Reasons for this may include learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, frequent school changes, limited literacy of parents, or inadequate instruction. Once a student falls behind his or her peers, development of literacy skills may be hampered by lack of access to appropriate materials and instruction and by motivational issues stemming from repeated experiences with failure. Students who are reading two or more years below grade level tend to have difficulty in content-area classes in secondary school. Often, they avoid reading and fall even further behind over time as a result. This presents a major challenge for educators and parents trying to help students succeed in the general curriculum and avoid the emotional and social consequences of repeated failure in school. This issue of NASET’s LD Report comes from the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition and will provide resources pertaining to adolescent literacy.
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