Why Reading Matters and What to Do About It

A CEO Action Plan to Support Improved U.S. Literacy Rates

December 16, 2016

U.S. companies are experiencing a very real “skills gap”—one that will become even more acute as the economy continues to grow, strengthen and add jobs over the next 15 years.

A focus on improving third grade reading proficiency offers a uniquely powerful lever to address many aspects of the skills gap over the long term. Research consistently shows that reading itself is one of the most commonly and intensively used skills among all types of jobs across the entire U.S. economy, including jobs that require no education or training beyond high school. In fact, the economic returns from reading proficiently are higher in the United States than in nearly every other developed country.

The United States has made some progress in improving reading, but the gains are too small and the pace too slow.  To address this critical problem and make sure all students develop the kind of reading proficiency necessary in today’s economy, state leaders should consider a six-step policy agenda to create an aligned, coherent system of effective literacy instruction and support for their youngest students.