One in four 15-year-olds has a reading age of 12 or younger and has difficulty understanding questions in their GCSE exams
- Test provider GL Assessment analyzed the reading skills of 370,000 students
- 25% have a reading age of 12 years or younger and 20% have skills of 11 years and younger
- Worryingly, 10% have a reading age that corresponds to an age of nine years and younger
A quarter of all 15-year-olds have a reading age of twelve or younger, which puts them at a disadvantage in their GCSE, new research shows.
They will have difficulty understanding questions in English and even topics such as science and mathematics, which have increasingly become “textual”.
The findings will raise concerns about the levels of literacy in primary and secondary schools in the country, while reading for pleasure is declining.
Test provider, GL Assessment, analyzed the reading skills of more than 370,000 pupils aged 15 years.
Researchers compared their scores in the company’s standardized reading test – which schools voluntarily take over – with their GCSE results in 2018/19.
A quarter of all 15-year-olds have a reading age of twelve or younger, according to a study of 370,000 teenagers (file)
The study found that 25 percent of teenagers have a reading age of twelve or younger and 20 percent have the skills of an 11-year-old and younger. Ten percent have a reading age equal to an age of nine years and younger.
There is also a gender gap in literacy skills. Fifty-three percent of 15-year-old girls have the expected or “higher” reading ability for their age, compared to just 47 percent for boys.
The GL Assessment report points out that schools that introduce GCSE curricula at an early stage are likely to experience ‘difficulties’. This is because “four out of five students do not have the reading skills to gain easy access to them.”
The report says: “Given the importance of literacy for the entire school curriculum, it follows that students who struggle with it have a significant disadvantage – a significant minority is years behind their peers at 15.”
Illiterates ‘are three times more likely to develop dementia’
Illiterates can be up to three times more likely to develop dementia, a study suggests.
Researchers at Columbia University in New York looked at nearly 1,000 people over a four-year period in the late 1970s.
They discovered that the risk of memory theft was tripled among those who were never taught how to read or write.
Being literate allows people to engage in activities that stimulate the brain, such as reading newspapers and helping grandchildren with homework.
About 7 million Britons never learn to read or write, according to the National Literacy Trust.
According to the Department of Education, there are approximately 32 million illiterates in the US.
The cause of dementia remains unknown – but there is quick evidence that keeping the brain stimulated fends off.
And learning new things, as well as social interaction, build cognitive reserve – the mind’s resistance to brain damage.
The study also discovered that a good understanding of literacy is more important for math than subjects of humanity, such as English literature and history.
This is because students must understand the “language of mathematics”. They can quickly lose their confidence if they are confronted with words they thought they knew, for example “difference”, “prime” or “product” that mean something else in a mathematical context.
Maths GCSE can also be “particularly challenging” because students must read and understand a piece of text, identify the question and then solve a numerical problem.
The report says: “Our study has shown that there is a significant correlation between reading skills and GCSE results in all subjects.
“This was not only the case in English, but also in mathematics and science. The correlation between good literacy and good student results at GCSE was indeed higher in mathematics than in some art subjects such as history and English literature. “
Researchers say that “correlations in mathematics and science also underline how” text heavy “is most academic subjects and why literacy is so crucial.”
New “more demanding” GCSEs were introduced by the government in 2017. Exams now usually contain “what” questions that “will be problematic for a significant minority of students with a low reading age.”
Crispin Chatterton, Director of Education at GL Assessment, said: “Our analysis makes clear how important it is that children are good readers.
‘Students with poor reading skills will find it more difficult to gain access to broad parts of their GCSE courses – and those who lack subject-specific language skills, which are difficult to acquire if students do not have good reading skills, will be double disadvantaged. “
Alex Quigley, national content manager at the Education Endowment Foundation, said that many secondary education teachers and leaders are “under-trained” and “too busy” to help students “gain access to the requirements of the academic curriculum.”
He said: “Literacy is too often seen as a bonus for teachers of natural sciences, geography and PE.
‘But if you look at the research evidence, it is revealed that literacy is the most essential factor for underprivileged students studying science. Reading, writing, vocabulary and talking all mediate in the school’s curriculum. “