This is a response to Bethlam Forsa, “A Love to ‘Read by Three’ Is The Answer to Success.” (https://www.newsweek.com/education-expert-love-read-three-answer-success-1727222).
Published in the Newsweek Expert Forum, an “invitation-only network of influential leaders, experts, executives and entrepeneurs.” (This response was not invited.) Forsa cannot be reached by email or telephone. She is the president of Savvas, formerly Pearson K12.
It is widely believed that failure at grade 3 predicts school failure later on in school (Forsa, “A love to read by three,” 7/25/22).
If true, we should study what factors predict success by the end of grade 3.
In Lao, Lee, McQuillan and Krashen (2021), we summarized the results of three studies of ten -year old children on a test of reading comprehension, the PIRLS test, 10 year olds in 45 countries in 2006, in 57 countries in 2011 and in 61 countries in 2016.
The number of children tested ranged from 3349 to 18,245 and was administered in the national language of the country.
In agreement with Forsa’s recommendation, the best predictor was access to reading material, represented here as the presence of a school library). High levels of poverty meant lower levels of reading competence, as did the amount of reading instruction in school and whether children had developed some reading competence before starting school.
The clear winner: access to books. There was the most popular recommendation among the public, direct instruction in reading, was not a strong predictor. There is plenty of support for this predictor from other studies, see especially the work of Keith Curry Lance. https://keithcurrylance.com and S. Krashen (2004).
Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Libraries Unlimited.
Lao, C., Lee, S-Y., McQuillan, J., and Krashen, S. 2021. Predicting reading ability among ten-year olds: Poverty (negative), school libraries (positive), instruction (zero), early literacy (zero). Language Magazine 20,10: 20-21. https://tinyurl.com/cn3nekc4