rate or laborious and comprehension of connected text will be impeded. A second obstacle is the failure to acquire and use comprehension skills and strategies. A third obstacle involves motivation. Although most children begin school with positive attitudes and expectations for success, by the end of the primary grades, and increasingly thereafter, some children become disaffected. Difficulties mastering sound-letter relationships or comprehension skills can easily stifle motivation, which can in turn hamper instructional efforts.
Levels of literacy adequate for high school completion, employability, and responsible citizenship in a democracy are feasible for all but a very small number of individuals. Yet a substantial percentage of American youth graduate from high school with very low levels of literacy. These youth are particularly likely to be from subgroups in our population that traditionally have done poorly in school (African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans) or to be from poor urban neighborhoods. However, low literacy at the high school level characterizes many students from all subgroups, including students who do not belong to identified risk groups. Most of the reading problems faced by today's adolescents and adults are the result of problems that might have been avoided or resolved in their early childhood years.
In this chapter, we present our major findings, conclusions, and recommendations. We begin with primary and secondary prevention3during the preschool years. We then move to primary and secondary prevention through educational practice from kindergarten through third grade, with particular attention to the provision of high-quality classroom instruction in early reading to all children. Next we address teacher preparation and professional support. The final section provides a research agenda that includes attention to assessment and its role in identifying effective prevention strategies. Although assessment is not at the core of the committee's expertise, we became convinced in the process of the study that the importance
3 Primary prevention is concerned with reducing the number of new cases (incidence) of an identified condition or problem in the population. Secondary prevention is concerned with reducing the number of existing cases (prevalence) of an identified condition or problem in the population.