Report: Increasing Student Reading Time Improves Comprehension
majority of students spend fewer than 15 minutes per day reading, but
increasing their daily reading time to 30 minutes can improve
comprehension and boost student achievement, according to a new report
from Renaissance Learning.
The ninth-annual What Kids Are Reading
report examines students' overall reading, nonfiction reading and
reading across the curriculum, and it analyses the data to identify
reading habits that can support student achievement. The report's data
comes from Renaissance Learning's Accelerated Reader 360
(AR 360) software for managing and monitoring student reading. The
report analyzes AR 360 data from 9.9 million K–12 students at 30,863
schools during the 2015–2016 school year.
The report found that
54 percent of students read for less than 15 minutes per day, and
between kindergarten and grade 12 those students will be exposed to
approximately 1.5 million words. On the other end of the spectrum, 18
percent of students read for more than 30 minutes per day, and
consequently are exposed to approximately 13.7 million words throughout
their K–12 schooling. Accelerated Reader 360 data shows that difference
of more than 12 million words can affect student achievement. However,
when students increase the number of minutes they read per day, their
comprehension improves, and they increase their chances of meeting
According to the report, "high-performing students
read a lot. Our data show, however, that students who struggle
initially but then begin to dedicate significant time to reading with
high understanding can experience accelerated growth during the school
year, and thus start to narrow achievement gaps."
also found that by the time students finish high school, they typically
read books with an ATOS level of 5 to 6, and "high school book reading
rarely surpasses the 9.0 reading level." (ATOS is a readability scale
designed by Renaissance Learning.) However, first year college
textbooks have an average reading level of 13.8, presenting a
significant jump in difficulty when students move on to higher
education. The report recommends gently encouraging students to read at
more difficult levels, while providing instructional supports to help
them improve their reading comprehension at higher reading levels.
Other key findings from the report:
- Girls read an average of 3.7 million words between kindergarten and grade 12;
- Boys read just over 3 million words on average — 23 percent less than girls;
the introduction of new academic standards, nonfiction reading has
increased by less than 10 percent in the majority of states;
nonfiction materials represent less than one third of kids' overall
reading, despite recommendations that elementary and middle school
students read 50 percent to 55 percent nonfiction, increasing to 70 percent by
the end of high school;
- STEM books represent less than 10 percent of all book reading; and
- Only 19 percent of grade 12 students read books that surpass a grade 9 reading level.
the data are limited to students' reading within the Accelerated Reader
360 program, it does not account for other books or materials students
may be reading outside of the classroom or from textbooks.
addition to analysis about student reading habits, the report includes
top 25 fiction and nonfiction reading lists for each grade, as well as
essays from several prominent children's authors.
The full report is available as a free, downloadable PDF from Renaissance Learning's site.
Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.