Disconcerting Study Says Average College Freshman Reads at Seventh Grade Level

A troubling new report released by Renaissance Learning suggests that students across the country are leaving high school woefully under-prepared for college. According to this report, the average incoming college Freshman reads at a mere seventh-grade level, despite K-12 “Common Core Standards” developed by the U.S. Government in 2009 to bolster college and career preparation.

The implications of this study are far-reaching. Lifting middle and high school students to their developmentally-appropriate reading levels will require revisiting how the Common Core Standards are implemented, how their efficacy is measured, and possibly curricular reform. Another arena where educators have the opportunity to begin raising the reading level of incoming Freshmen is in college itself, via first-year common reading programs. These increasingly-popular programs introduce schools’ newest students to a specific text, encouraging or requiring them to read the book, then incorporating discussion about the book’s themes and lessons into the first year curriculum. First year common reading programs unite new students in dialogue and they have the potential to define a school’s expectations of student reading level and analytic ability as well as to jump-start the process of raising reading levels in students who have fallen behind.

At Books In Common we recognize that literature has the power to help schools bring students together to spur growth and change. We help hundreds of First Year Common Read and All Campus Read programs across the United States find just the right books for incoming students as they kick off the most important four years of their academic lives. For more information about common reading programs, or for help in planning yours, contact Books in Common.

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