Reading is Power

Reading is Power according to some of the latest educational research. Last week we identified Academic Return on Investment. One of the greatest benefits of AROI is it identifies underfunded areas. If school districts applied this concept to elementary level reading, most would find it is underfunded.

There is not one educational professional that does not know the enormous benefit of reading well at an early age. One school district in Massachusetts shifted resources from less critical areas to support a combined special and general education reading program. Prior to the reform only 10 percent of struggling readers reached grade level. After the reform efforts over 65 percent became proficient. This is a huge return on investment.

Likewise, according to the Rennie Center for Education, Research and Policy, Reading has some astounding benefits for special needs students:

Reading is the core challenge for 40 percent of special needs students 40 percent of special needs students are designated as “Specific Learning Disability”. This is the largest disability group and 80 percent of these students have difficulty reading.

A student who can’t read on level by the third grade has four times less of a chance of graduating by the age of nineteen.Reading is the gateway to learning all other subjects including Math. Math is now world problem intensive.

Schools that have documented success in reading programs see their special education referrals drop in half.

Even without a calculator you can see the enormous benefit and savings from an aggressive early reading intervention program. Everyone knows the enormous costs of special education intervention. This intervention can typical last the entire career of a student. Every student that can be educated through general education will be far better off in the long run. In addition, school districts will save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Reading is power.

What is Academic Return on Investment

In the corporate world return on investment (ROI) is defined as follows: “A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments (Investopedia Online Resource)”. Fair enough, if you invested $100,000 and your investments increased by 20% then your return on your investment would be $20,000.

What about your Academic Return on Investment (AROI)? AROI seeks to maximize achievement for the greatest number of students given available resources. It requires efforts to evaluate effects on student learning, the number of students served and the cost per student. The last post discussed per unit costs, which exactly quantifies what programs cost.

No district willingly spends money on programs that do not work. But do districts really take the time to understand what really works? AROI is a mindset and a tool for defining what works and where we should increase spending and where we should cut. The three pillars of AROI are as follow.

• Not all money spent on learning is effective

• The money that is spent should lead to student achievement

  • Spending $500 for similar results is better than spending $5,000.

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