ETE 016 – Reading Well vs. Jail Cells: Why We Must Teach Our Students How to Read

There’s been a disturbing rumor to bounce around for the last few years, and that is…

Prison builders use third grade reading scores to predict the number of prison beds and jail cells to building an area.

Whether true or not, learning how to read is imperative to the fundamental growth of every student.

You see…

a student not reading at his or her grade level by the end of the third grade is four times less likely to graduate high school on time, (six times less likely for students from low-income families).

In 2009, Northwestern University did a study that found that high school dropouts were 63 times more likely to be incarcerated than college grads and you can start to see how many arrive at this conclusion.

Before we get into this episode of Educate to Elevate (or old episodes), let’s look at some numbers on literacy in America.

Reading Literacy in America Shows

  • 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
  • Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.
  • 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.
  • Students who don’t read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school.
  • As of 2011, America was the only country where the current generation was less educated than the previous one.
  • Nearly 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, proving that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime. More than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate.
  • 53% of 4th graders admitted to reading recreationally “almost every day,” while only 20% of 8th graders could say the same.
  • 75% of Americans who receive food stamps perform at the lowest 2 levels of literacy, and 90% of high school dropouts are on welfare.
  • Teenage girls between the ages of 16 to 19 who live at or below the poverty line and have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to have children out of wedlock than girls their age who can read proficiently.
  • Reports show that the rate of low literacy in the United States directly costs the healthcare industry over $70 million every year.
  • In 2013, Washington, D.C. was ranked the most literate American city for the third year in a row, with Seattle and Minneapolis close behind.
  • Long Beach, CA was ranked the country’s most illiterate city, followed by Mesa, AZ, and Aurora, CO.
As you can see, reading literacy is a challenge.

This Podcast is Focused on Learning How to Read

In Episode 16 of Educate to Elevate, I sit down with Dexter Humphrey, the creator of, to discuss reading strategies and how to help teach students how to read.

The Learning My ABC’s Literacy System is aimed at preparing children ages 2-5 academically as well as other students in need of learning the English alphabet. The Learning My ABC’s Literacy System is an ideal learning resource for Pre-K and Kindergarten students, English Language Learners (ELL) and Adult Literacy Learners.

Watch Episode 16 of Educate to Elevate

Click Here to Watch Episode 016 on Youtube

About The Author

Kantis Simmons

Kantis Simmons is a Rocket Scientist, Academic Guru, Author and Nationally Renowned Motivational Speaker that's on a mission to improve overall student and teacher performance in this country. Schools, colleges, and organizations bring him in to speak on topics like: How to Get Better Grades, How to Succeed in STEM, How to Prevent Teacher Burnout, and How to Motivate Students. He's the author of Playing Your 'A' Game, and creator of the Educate to Elevate Podcast. Request him to speak at 404-458-7668 or