It’s Not the Kids Fault!

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Instructional Casualties, Poverty, and Percentage of Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities

When we look at the kids who are having a tough time learning to read and we went through the statistics, thirty-eight percent nationally, disaggregate that, seventy percent kids from poverty and so forth hit the wall. Ninety-five percent of those kids are instructional casualties. About five to six percent of those kids have what we call dyslexia or learning disabilities in reading. Ninety-five percent of the kids hitting the wall in learning to read are what we call NBT: Never Been Taught.

G. Reid Lyon, Past- Chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch of the National Institute of Child Health & Human DevelopmentNational Institutes of Health, Current senior vice president for research and evaluation with Best Associates. Source: COTC Interview –

Percentage of Children with Learning Disabilities is About Five Percent

And, there is good research to show that up to ninety-five percent or so of reading problems, reading difficulties can be effectively addressed if that instruction is there and delivered in the right way. That still leaves about four to six percent of the student population that is not responding, that is still struggling, that needs some other kind of intervention, some other kind of instruction. And interestingly, the percentage of children in the school age population who have learning disabilities right now is about five percent.

Effects of Evidence-Based Intervention for Struggling Readers

What’s been shown is [that] if you give children highly effective, evidence-based intervention you can bring down the number of struggling readers to five to seven percent.

Sally Shaywitz, Pediatric Neuroscience, Yale University, Author of Overcoming Dyslexia. Source: COTC Phone Interview –

It's Not the Kids

David Boulton: In other words, only about 5% of children have some innate difficulty with reading and the remaining 95% or so could read if they were taught correctly.

Chris Doherty: Right.

David Boulton: So that means that all of this money, all of these tragedies, what’s happening to children is a consequence of the fact that we’re not doing it right. It’s not them.

Chris Doherty: It’s not them. It’s not the kids.

Chris Doherty, Ex-Director, Reading First Program, U.S. Department of Education. Source: COTC Interview: