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Middle & High School - Reading Comprehension
1.2 Introduction to Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension can be defined as the level of understanding of a passage or text. Students in public schools in the United States are expected to pass the reading comprehension tests mandated by the No Child Left Behind Laws.

The 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) found that 40 to 44 million Americans, or approximately one quarter of the US population, are functionally illiterate, and another 50 million have marginal literacy skills. This means that almost half of the US adult population has deficiencies in reading. Of these, 5% have learning disabilities and 15% were born outside the United States. However, the vast majority of adults with poor literacy are white, native-born Americans.

Effective reading comprehension is the culmination of mastering vocabulary, phonics, fluency, and text comprehension skills. Reading comprehension can be improved by: improving your ability to self assess comprehension, actively testing comprehension using questionnaires, and by improving metacognition ("thinking about what you are reading").

Reading comprehension skills separate the "passive" unskilled reader from the "active" readers. Skilled readers don't just read, they interact with the text. Skilled readers, for instance:

  • Predict what will happen next in a story using clues presented in the text
  • Create questions about the main idea, message, or plot of the text
  • Monitor understanding of the sequence, context, or characters
  • Clarify parts of the text which have confused them
  • Connect the events in the text to prior knowledge or experience

Directions: Read the above passage and answer the following questions. Write a description of the strategies that you would like to employ to improve reading comprehension.
Q 1: One ___________ of the US population is illiterate.

Q 2: Which of these statements is true?
Reading skill cannot be improved.
Skilled readers quickly read the text without thinking about it.
Skilled readers interact with the text they are reading.
Passive readers are skilled readers.

Q 3: How is reading comprehension defined?
The level of understanding of a passage or text.
How many words per minute a person can read.
The number of words a person can recall.
The intelligent quotient of a student.

Q 4: According to the 1992 NALS survey, how many adult Americans have deficiencies in reading?
about 90 million
about 40 million
about 50 million
about 15 million

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