Reading at Five: Why?

By Joan Almon
Published August 21, 2013, at SouthEast Education Network

For 40 years I have searched without success for studies that support the notion that reading at five is a helpful step for long-term success in school. A recent doctoral thesis confirmed the absence of such evidence. Sebastian Suggate, studying in New Zealand, did an extensive search for quantitative, controlled studies that showed long-term gains for children who learned to read at five compared to those who learned at six or seven. He found one methodologically weak study from 1974 but could find no others. Thus, a major shift in American education has taken place without any evidence to support it. Nor have NAEP scores — Department of Education tests that are often called the nation’s report card — over the past 20 years increased enough to indicate that we are making strong gains, especially when one considers the problems that accompany the current focus on cognitive learning in kindergartens and in preschools. Read the story.