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The Federal Role in Confronting the Crisis in Adolescent Literacy

Results from national reading assessments reveal that millions of young people leave high school without the advanced reading and writing skills required for career and college success. Young adults who lack reading and writing proficiency will likely be relegated to the ranks of unskilled workers in a world where literacy is an absolute precondition for success. The disastrous outcomes for portions of the student population by race, ethnicity, and income level reverberate through the nation’s educational system. Unless the nation makes a consistent investment toward delivering comprehensive reading and writing instruction throughout the pre-K–12 grade span, a large proportion of low-income students and students of color will remain sidelined from full participation in the modern workplace. While federal and state strategies have begun to focus on the adolescent literacy crisis, more than ever it is time to build upon these initial efforts. This policy brief describes the role that the federal government can play to advocate for a comprehensive, national, and schoolwide focus on K–12 literacy.

Research and Reports