chapter  2
26 Pages

Early Reading Strategies for First-Grade Spanish-Speaking Students Attending a Bilingual Spanish/English Education Program

Reading is the most important skill for success in school and society. In order to participate fully in society, literacy is essential. Illiteracy has a negative effect on quality of life as children who fail to learn to read will surely fail to reach their full potential. Although reading is the cornerstone of all school-based learning, reading failure is pervasive. The results of the 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress showed 38% of fourth-grade students and 26% of eighthgrade students reading at a “below basic” level of achievement (National Center for Education Statistics, 1999). Results of the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress showed scores settling back to the same level as in 1992, with a 1-point dip. These numbers indicate that a significant number of students exhibit little mastery of the knowledge necessary to perform work at each grade level. And while minority students showed some improvements, they are still struggling to catch up with their white peers (National Center for Education Statistics, 2004). Therefore, a major responsibility among educators is to provide the best reading instruction possible for children who are at risk of reading failure while meeting quantifiable standards of achievement. At the same time, schools face serious challenges brought on by changes in our societies. U.S. Census figures indicate a 60,000 increase in the Hispanic population alone over the next fifty years (U. S. Census Bureau, 2004). Nationally, the school-age population is growing more and more diverse with dramatic increases in language-minority children expected.