Arizona students struggling with reading skills

While reading skills are dropping, it appears computer literacy is increasing

Arizona ranks low in education

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Nation’s Report Card has some sobering news for the country.

It shows that reading skills among eighth graders is dropping while maintaining or increasing a bit in math.

Thirty-one states, including Arizona, saw a drop in reading skills.

There has been no improvement since the biannual study began in 1992, despite efforts to increase reading skills.

A drop in reading skills in the years prior to high school can be an indicator the students will fall even further behind.

Retired nurse Susan Friese, a volunteer at Literacy Connects in Tucson, said “Arizona just can’t be 50th and think it’s all going to be OK.”

Literacy Connects helps people of all ages to become more literate.

Friese said demand is “more than we can supply.”

She believes the students are the ones paying for the education budget cuts which has been going on for decades in Arizona.

She believes class size is just one issue.

"The teacher, I don't think are able to give the students the attention they might need," she said.

Arizona had 14,000 teacher vacancies at the start of the school year.

"The world is different now than when we were young," said Amelia Marsh, a librarian associate at the Main Library downtown.

The 24-year-old Marsh spends her day with preteen to older teens on the second floor of the library, where a couple dozen kids will come during the late afternoon to read or play on the computer.

"I'd say they prefer to play on the computer overall," she said as opposed to planting their face in a book.

Although she added, many students take books home but prefer to chat with friends while at the library.

It’s something she did even though she calls herself an obsessive reader.

“When I got a computer in the eighth grade, I started to watch Hanna Montana, my reading dropped a lot,” she said.

But she adds a different perspective, a younger generation perspective, to the definition of literacy.

She believes the young people are developing skills they need to adapt to a changing world.

"How they can assess fake news differently, they can access the internet differently than adults can and are much better at it," she said. "So I think it's a function of the world today."

So while the reading skills are dropping, it appears the computer literacy is increasing.

“Literacy is opportunity,” Friese said. “Education is a great equalizer.”

No matter where it comes from.

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