New Research Reveals Teachers Value Independent Reading Time, but Only 36% Can Set Aside Time Daily
National Survey Provides Insights into Teachers’ and Principals’ Views on the State of Independent Reading in School, Making the Home-to-School Connection, and the Importance of Summer Reading
Scholastic released the new Teacher & Principal School Report: Focus on Literacy, which reveals that the overwhelming majority of educators agree that “students should have time during the school day to read a book of their choice independently,” but only 36% of Pre-K–12 teachers can set aside time for their students to do this every day, adding that the primary barrier to independent reading time is “the demands of the curriculum.” In addition, about half of educators (46%) say their students do not have adequate access to books at home—with 69% of educators in high-poverty schools saying the same—and 96% of educators believe that “providing year-round access to books at home is important to enhancing student achievement.”
To download the full report, which includes the views of 4,700 public school Pre-K–12 teachers and principals representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia, visit: www.scholastic.com/teacherprincipalreport.
“It is critical for schools, families, and communities to come together to support students’ reading year-round, with access to books and time for independent reading at the heart of these efforts. In the Teacher & Principal School Report: Focus on Literacy, educators tell us they agree that schools play an important role in expanding this access at home and that they wish they had more time for independent reading during the school day,” said Michael Haggen, Chief Academic Officer, Scholastic Education. “My hope is that educators across the country will use these findings to refine and enhance their own comprehensive literacy plans to support all students on their path to discover the joy and power of reading.“
Key findings from the Teacher & Principal School Report:
Reading in School
- Seventy-seven percent of teachers set time aside for independent reading/read-aloud, but as previously noted, only 36% do this every school day. Students who have this opportunity to engage in independent reading/read-aloud time spend 22 minutes on average on this activity.
- Many teachers (63%) wish independent reading/read-aloud time occurred more often. Ninety percent of teachers identify demands of the curriculum as the primary barrier to preventing independent reading from occurring more frequently.
Reading & the Home-to-School Connection
- Sixty-nine percent of educators say encouraging reading at home is among the most important things they do to help families be engaged with children’s learning, yet only 51% say this is happening to the degree it should.
- As previously mentioned, 46% of educators say their students do not have adequate access to fiction or nonfiction books at home, with 69% of educators in high-poverty schools saying the same.
- The majority of educators (91%) agree that schools play an important role in expanding access to books at home, but many teachers (54%) have fewer than 150 books in their classroom libraries to serve all their students throughout the year—with 31% of teachers having fewer than 50 books.
- Among all classroom libraries, relevancy may be lacking. Regardless of classroom library size, many educators are in need of culturally relevant titles, books published in the last 3–5 years, multiple copies of popular titles, high-interest, low-reading-level books, and magazines.
- Forty-seven percent of teachers can only update their classroom libraries once a year or every couple of years, and 13% are never able to.
- Sixty-four percent of educators promote reading among students by encouraging summer reading—particularly those in elementary schools (77%).
- Educators also indicate that the public library is the number one source of access to books for kids over the summer (77%).
The Teacher & Principal School Report: Focus on Literacy is the second national report in the Teacher & Principal School Report series, showcasing the views of educators on critical issues affecting schools and districts across the country. Survey questions were developed in collaboration with the 2016 State Teachers of the Year through the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) National Teacher of the Year Program.
Methodology, in Brief
The findings reported in the Teacher & Principal School Report: Focus on Literacy are based on a national online survey managed by YouGov among public school Pre-K–12 teachers (3,694) and principals (1,027). The survey was conducted between July 22, 2016 and August 26, 2016. The data was weighted on gender, years of teaching experience (teachers only), school grade range, district enrollment, school urbanicity, and percentage of students receiving free/reduced-price lunch. School poverty levels were determined by NCES definitions of high- and low-poverty schools, based on the percentage of students eligible for free/reduced-price lunch, i.e. low poverty (0–25%) and high poverty (76%+).