Each year, Renaissance analyzes millions of student reading records to create What Kids Are Reading, the world’s largest study of K–12 student reading habits. We like to think of it as a celebration of reading that draws attention to the books that young people are connecting with. It’s also a trove of data that uncovers areas of concern related to reading proficiency, as well as a source of hope for addressing those concerns.
One troubling trend identified for a number of years has been the flatlining of reading proficiency as students enter high school. The concern is much larger than just what kids are reading. If we look at data on reading proficiency from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) over decades, it's relatively flat going all the way back to 1992 at least. Despite more than 20 years of interventions, initiatives, and increasing focus on reading achievement, the average reading score for an eighth-grader has only risen 7 points, from 260 to 267. Worse, the average score for a 12th-grader has dropped 5 points, from 292 to 287.