This week’s blog and posts are about college reading readiness and strategies for encouraging kids to read at an early age.  Why?  Because reading is a critical skill essential to college success.

Many kids read early.  Many learn readily and complete high school with little attention given to reading skills.  However, high school and college have different demands for reading. has gone a step further to identify what ACT Reading score indicates readiness for college.  That score, known at the ACT Reading Benchmark, is 22 on the Reading test.  According to ACT, “If your score…was above or equal to the benchmark, it means you have a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher, or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in specific first-year college courses in the corresponding subject area.”

Reading Complex Texts is Key

Over 10 years ago, ACT looked closely at student preparedness for college reading.  They found one factor that distinguished students who met the benchmark from those who did not:  ability to read complex texts.  What are complex texts?  The ACT defined them in terms of the following characteristics:

  • Relationships:  Interactions among ideas or characters in the text are subtle, involved, or deeply embedded.
  • Richness:  The text possesses a sizable amount of highly sophisticated information conveyed through data or literary devices.
  • Structure:  The text is organized in ways that are elaborate and sometimes unconventional.
  • Style:  The author’s tone and use of language are often intricate.
  • Vocabulary:  The author’s choice of words is demanding and highly context dependent.
  • Purpose:  The author’s intent in writing the text is implicit and sometimes ambiguous.

Obviously, a student cannot read complex texts as a new reader.  This level of reading develops with practice over time.  At the same time, a student increases his vocabulary and develops other higher level thinking skills like analysis and synthesis of information.   But what happens if something slows the development of reading skills?

Obstacles to Attaining College Level Reading Skills

There are a number of things that can derail a student’s reading progression.   Fortunately, parents can have a positive impact on their student’s college reading readiness:

  • In many schools, reading instruction effectively ends in middle school.
  • Identification of student reading issues in elementary school will address particular weaknesses and bring students to grade level sooner.  This is crucial for continued development of reading skill as students must increasingly read to learn.
  • Schools in many states are so focused on standardized tests that time devoted to research, writing and analysis is limited. Ironically, those are the very skills that improve students’ ability to understand complex texts.
  • Students planning to go to college must be exposed to complex texts and challenged to read them. Unfortunately, too many students have entered college only to find they were woefully unprepared for the complexity of college texts.
  • Even if they are good readers, some students just don’t like to read for pleasure.  They don’t like to be sedentary or may associate reading with schoolwork.

Be Proactive About Ensuring Your Student’s College Reading Readiness

If your student just doesn’t seem to enjoy reading, check out our Facebook post from yesterday about encouraging reluctant readers.  Find ways to pique your child’s interest in reading to continue his or her reading development.  Ensure that your student is ready for college level reading.

Later this week, we’ll post an article on Facebook about how to help students prepare for college level reading.  It includes some of the tips mentioned here as well as others specific to high school students.

If your child is struggling, whether in elementary, middle or high school, the Knowledge Edge Reading Program can get your child back to reading at grade level and beyond.  The program is individualized and based on an assessment of your child’s specific reading skills and deficiencies.  Our knowledgeable tutors work with students to improve skills and build confidence.  For more information, click on the link above or email us at to set up a reading assessment.