As we all know, education in the the United States is failing too many
students.The implications for opportunity and social mobility are
• Despite gains over the past decade, the US ranks 22nd in high school
completion rates in the industrialized world.
• High school dropouts forfeit their earning potential, are more likely to
depend on government programs, and are more likely to end up in jail
– personal crises that cost the country an estimated $180 billion a year.
• Those who do make it to college are increasingly unprepared – the US
now has the highest college dropout rate of any industrialized nation.
Sources: America’s Promise Alliance,“Building a Grad Nation”(March 2013); OECD,“Educational Indicators at a Glance”(September 2012); Henry Levin and Cecelia Rouse,
“The True Cost of High School Dropouts”(NYT 1/25/2012); Harvard Graduate School of Education, "Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young
Americans for the 21st Century" (February 2011)
The Crisis: Literacy Education Today
Less well known – our failure to provide eﬀective literacy instruction is at
the root of our educational failure:
• Students who are reading below grade level by the end of third grade
are much more likely to drop out than their peers.
• Students’literacy deficits have a ripple eﬀect, undermining
performance across disciplines. Students who lack comprehension
skills perform below their potential in all core subjects.
• Grade 12 textbooks are now four grades below college-level reading –
a deficit that college-based remedial programs struggle to fill.
Sources: The Annie E Casey Foundation,“Early Warning: Why Reading By the End of Third Grade Matters”(2010); Marilyn Jager Adams,“The Challenge of Advanced Texts: The
Interdependence of Reading and Learning”in Reading More, Reading Better (Guilford Publications, 2009); Common Core State Standards,“CCSS for English Language Arts & Literacy in
History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects - Appendix A: Research Supporting Key Elements of the Standards”(2010)
Literacy Education Today Perpetuates Social Injustice
The state of literacy instruction has the biggest impact on historically
Black Latino White
Source: National Center for Education Statistics, NAEP Data Explorer, http://nces.ed.gov/
nationsreportcard/nde, cited in Whitney Tilson,“A Right Denied.”2009 data,
• Until the end of 3rd grade, most
children are learning to read.
Beginning in 4th grade, they are
reading to learn.
• Up to half of the printed 4th grade
curriculum is incomprehensible to
students who read below that
Proﬁcient / Advanced
Literacy Education Today Undermines Equity
All Students Graduate High School Start College Earn 4 Yr Degree
Top Income Quartile
Bottom Income Quartile
The vast majority of students in the bottom income quartile forfeit the
social mobility and opportunity that come with a four-year college degree.
Ample research has shown which strategies work to ensure that students from historically
underprivileged and low-income families reach their full potential as readers and writers.
More time reading a
range of challenging
Writing to boost
Timely feedback and
High expectations for
students and for teachers
Children need time to read deeply and widely, building
comprehension skills, domain knowledge and vocabulary
Research includes: Nelson et al., 2011; Dobbie & Fryer, 2011
Children learn to read faster and more strategically through note-
taking, analyzing and summarizing, and answering text-
Meta-data research includes: Graham & Hebert, 2011; Graham, McKeown, et al., 2012
The Common Core has officially raised the bar; literacy
benchmarking and progress monitoring are needed to hold
teachers and leaders accountable.
Research includes: Weinstein 2002; Rubie-Davies, 2007; Angrist, Pathak et al., 2011
Students move toward mastery more quickly through rapid, data-
driven teacher guidance and peer-to-peer engagement.
Research includes: Yeh, 2011; Seifried et al., 2012; Graham et al., 2012; Allen et al. 2011
We Know How to Accelerate Literacy
LightSail Disrupts Literacy Education Today
LightSail powers literacy by combining the high standards of the Common Core with
research-based reading and writing strategies – and putting them all at students’
and teachers’ fingertips:
• A personalized, Common Core-aligned library stocked with multiple genres of great
writing that responds to a student’s interests and growing comprehension
• An interactive eReader with embedded MetaMetrics’Lexile assessments – the most
reliable and rapid measure of comprehension – and Common Core thinking tools
• Writing tools that support students as they learn to create Common Core-level
• A social networking platform facilitating rapid, differentiated teacher feedback and
• Real-time actionable data on students’reading habits for teachers, school leaders,
CMOs and districts