'A Crisis': Less Kids Reading For Fun Amid 'Decline' In Test Scores


The United States is facing a new “crisis” as fewer children are reading for fun amid a “decline” in test scores in subjects like mathematics and reading.

A report released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for the 2022-2023 school year showed that 14% of students liked to read for fun, marking a 3% decrease from 2020, and a 13% decrease from 2012.

This decrease in reading comes as test scores in reading among 13-year-olds dropped 4%, and test scores in mathematics dropped 9% from 2020, according to the report.

“The 2023 average scores in reading declined compared to 2020 for many student groups reported by NAEP; for example, scores were lower for both male and female 13-year-olds, for students eligible and not eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and for students attending schools in the Northeast and Midwest regions,” the report said.

The report also cited how mathematics scores had declined compared to that of scores in 2020, for most student groups such as “Black, Hispanic, and White” 13-year-old students who attended schools in all sorts of regions, were eligible or not eligible for the NSLP, and had parents with different levels of education, according to the report.

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Sasha Quinton, the Executive Vice President and President for Scholastic School Reading Events told The Hill that there was a “crisis” happening.

“We definitely have a crisis on our hands, and what’s wonderful is I really definitely think that we have an antidote for what ails us here,” Quinton told the outlet, emphasizing a focus on “book joy” and trying to connect “kids to funny stories and explosive stories and things that” can spark their imagination and interests.

Various factors including an increase in cell phone usage and technology have attributed to low test scores and interest in reading among kids.

A study conducted by Stanford Medicine in 2022 showed that most children had a cell phone by the age of 11. An earlier study conducted by the Pew Research Center in April 2010 found 75% of 12-17-year-olds had cell phones, showing a 45% increase from 2004.

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According to the NAEP report, the reading scores hit their lowest level since 2004.

Reading scores in children ages 9-13 began improving starting in 1971, according to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics. The scores seen among the lowest-performing students in the NAEP’s report were some of the lowest scores seen since before 1971.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona cast blame on the Coronavirus pandemic as having had a “devasting impact” on students’ ability to learn.

“While this latest data reminds us how far we still need to go, I’m encouraged that the historic investments and resources provided by the American Rescue Plan and the Department of Education are beginning to show positive results,” Cardona said in his statement, highlight how “several states” had been returning to “pre-pandemic levels of achievement” in subjects such as math and reading assessments.

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