Literacy crisis a 'preventable tragedy' in Australian schools

A continued reliance on outdated teaching strategies has led to a “preventable tragedy” where one third of Australian children can’t read properly, according to a new report (ABC).

The Grattan Institute report found that about 1.3m Australian children are not adequately proficient readers and are being failed by the education system, which is at times relying on discredited theories of teaching.

It found this is costing the economy $40bn over their lifetimes, and that these children are more likely to fall behind, disrupt classrooms and end up unemployed or incarcerated.

The Grattan Institute has called on governments to aim to lift the number of proficient readers in schools to 83% in the next decade and 90% in the long term (SMH).

The report found a rise in the use of a teaching method called “whole language”, which leaves students to “guess” the meaning of many words.

It instead called for the use of “structured literacy” including phonics and explicit instructions from teachers.