She's going back to school but can she read?

September 4, 2009

Five million students will return to Canadian schools this month. If nothing changes at least a million will fail to graduate high school.

The fact that children who do not read well by the end of Grade 3 are at risk of dropping out or failing to graduate is one of the grim conclusions made in a report released by the Canadian Education Statistics Council.

The report, "Literature Review: Key factors to support literacy success in school-aged population" was prepared by principal investigator Julia O'Sullivan, Dean of the Faculty of Education at The University of Western Ontario. It explores the gaps in students' opportunities to learn to read and identifies those at risk based on how well Canadian children can read in Grade 3 or Grade 6. Statistics prove that at least 30 per cent of students across the country cannot read or write well enough to support success in school by the end of Grade 6.

"These students move to junior or senior high where reading is not taught and these same students are expected to read well enough to learn from textbooks in subjects ranging from science to history," says O'Sullivan. "Then they have to write about what they know and think. But without those reading skills, success is highly unlikely."

And while many students are doing well in Canada's current system, the report says it's unacceptable that nearly one quarter will not graduate from high school. The costs for these students, their families, communities and Canada are much higher today than 25 years ago. Today, Canada competes against countries with higher graduation rates whose students often speak two or three languages.

Efforts to improve reading and writing skills, historically, happen at the primary and elementary levels. But the report urges that those efforts must be intensified for young children and expanded to junior and senior high school if more students are to succeed. And that means more literacy teachers in settings.

O'Sullivan explains, "Reading, or the ability to get meaning from print, is fundamental for school success for all students. It is the golden ticket that every child in this country has a right to expect. The challenge for Canada is to raise the bar and close the gap for all of our . Every single child is entitled to learn to read, to attain that golden ticket."

More information: To read the full report, please visit

Source: University of Western Ontario

Explore further: Study: Parents' education affects kids

Related Stories

Recommended for you

The hand and foot of Homo naledi

October 6, 2015

The second set of papers related to the remarkable discovery of Homo naledi, a new species of human relative, have been published in scientific journal, Nature Communications, on Tuesday, 6 October 2015.

Who you gonna trust? How power affects our faith in others

October 6, 2015

One of the ongoing themes of the current presidential campaign is that Americans are becoming increasingly distrustful of those who walk the corridors of power – Exhibit A being the Republican presidential primary, in which ...

The dark side of Nobel prizewinning research

October 4, 2015

Think of the Nobel prizes and you think of groundbreaking research bettering mankind, but the awards have also honoured some quite unhumanitarian inventions such as chemical weapons, DDT and lobotomies.

How much for that Nobel prize in the window?

October 3, 2015

No need to make peace in the Middle East, resolve one of science's great mysteries or pen a masterpiece: the easiest way to get yourself a Nobel prize may be to buy one.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Sep 08, 2009
This is a direct result of the governments " No Teacher left behind policy" relegating the 'profession' to that of unionized tradespeople - don't need many to lead fortunately

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.