The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. Assessments are conducted periodically in mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, U.S. history, and beginning in 2014, in Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL).
Based on NAEP's August 2012 report, 67% of fourth graders nationwide were reading at their grade level. Eighth graders fared better with 76% of them reading at grade level. African American and Hispanic fourth graders reading at grade level were 49% and 51% respectively, eighth graders were 59% and 64% respectively. An excerpt of the complete table is at the end of this article.
Needless to say there is a lot of work to be done, especially in the African American and Hispanic communities. These statistics cannot be viewed in a vacuum, there are a myriad of socio-economic factors that must be a part of the discussion. One thing is for certain, we cannot solely rely on our educational system to get this done. these are our children, we need to shoulder some of the responsibility.
LiteracyNation Inc. is one organization that is making a difference. Their mission is both simple and powerful.
The mission of LiteracyNation is to encourage and promote youth and adults as well as those whose native language is not English, to develop basic skills in reading, speaking, and writing English, thereby empowering them to participate in their communities.
In April 2012, Mr. Richard E. Ashby Jr. President and co-founder of a not for profit organization (LiteracyNation Inc.) set up a library on the street corner in West Philadelphia. Mr. Richie as he is known by the folks in the neighborhood, performs on site-volunteer library services, for the Mantua community in West Philly. He plants new books along with fresh ideas in the hands and minds of children. He gives out new and used books along with encouragement, to adults, assist patrons to file for unemployment, access free Wi-Fi, look up mass transit schedules, ready reference services, conduct story times, conduct a homework help club daily. Some of the children books come from First book Inc. through book Grants. LiteracyNation supplies a bulk of the books, along with Donations from friends.