High school kids have WORSE reading levels than primary in shock new report | United Kingdom | News
The report also revealed JK Rowling’s popularity surged after she was accused of being ‘transphobic’ for appearing to suggest someone on their period was a woman. Rowling has returned to the top five most popular authors with children, in the latest annual report from reading program developers Renaissance Learning, who work with more than 7,000 schools. Rowling’s Harry Potter books held the top three spots of favorite reading for elementary school students.
But it is the lack of improvement in reading comprehension among high school students that is the most shocking result.
The study showed that primary school children showed a much higher quality of comprehension than secondary school students when reading books of the same level of difficulty.
And while primary school students read increasingly difficult books as they get older, for secondary school students, the difficulty level of the books plateaued and then actually declined.
Professor Keith Topping, professor of educational and social research at the University of Dundee, who conducted the research, said: ‘Older children fail to progress from books at primary level.
The study found that after seventh grade, the difficulty of favorite books dropped sharply, with the move to secondary school having a significant effect on this choice, even among highly motivated readers.
The 2022 report “What and How Kids Are Reading” found that comprehension ability remained unchanged over three years, but children on average tried to read more difficult books.
Encouragingly, the number of books read for pleasure by children rose 11% year-on-year after hitting an all-time low ahead of the 2020 shutdowns following a steady decline since 2005.
Professor Topping added: “In primary schools the average difficulty of books increased as students got older, but in secondary schools it leveled off and eventually declined. Older secondary students still read the same difficulty of books as upper primary students.
“David Walliams, Roald Dahl and Jeff Kinney – who wrote the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series – are all among the top ten most-read secondary school authors and the same three top the primary school charts.
“It is striking to see how, from the 7th year, the difficulty of favorite books drops sharply, the passage to secondary having a significant effect even on the most motivated readers.
“And the overall reading comprehension of primary students is better than that of secondary students.
“The time allotted for reading self-chosen books in secondary school is less than in primary school. And we know that reading performance is directly related to the time spent reading these books.
“However, this does not explain why secondary school students read books of the same level of difficulty as upper primary school students but with a lower quality level of comprehension.
“This suggests that high school students are simply more neglectful than elementary students. Maybe if they read books that were more difficult for them, they would feel the need to concentrate better.
“Otherwise, we are in the realm of speculation.”
JK Rowling proved to be the fourth most popular author across all ages, while among primary school students Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was voted their favorite book, along with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban second, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix third.
Professor Topping was encouraged that primary school pupils are reading and understanding Rowling’s books, even though they are much more difficult than the typical books read in the National Curriculum for that age.
Rowling, who unleashed a storm of accusations that she was ‘anti-trans’ in 2020, went from the 12th most popular author among all children in the 2020 report, to seventh the following year, and now fourth in the latest report, which has been released now giving reading habits results for the 12 months to August 2021.
Among elementary school students, she hadn’t even made the top 10 most popular authors in the report three years ago, before a surge in popularity.
The 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book in 2021 may have contributed to Rowling’s recent popularity.
In high schools, Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder became the favorite read, knocking Rick Riordan off the top spot, while comic-book-style graphic novels cracked the top 10 for the first time.
New entries to the list of most popular high school student authors included Jackson and Alice Oseman, author of the Heartstopper series.
The Renaissance report was compiled in conjunction with the National Literary Trust, which also provided data showing that just over half of eight to 18 year olds said they enjoyed reading a lot (21.6%) or a lot (29.9%).
The survey interviewed children and carried out various comprehension tests across the UK and Ireland.