Reading Analyses with Chilean Children

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Chilean data show that a large reading-proficiency gap exists between students with high and low socioeconomic status (SES), that most children do not see themselves as readers, and that half of adolescents read below grade level (Agencia de Calidad de la Educación, 2019; Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes, 2014). To understand the reasons behind these phenomena, I conducted three complementary studies on reading comprehension, motivation, and literacy-related home practices with over 800,000 Chilean students, using nation-wide secondary data analysis.In the first study, I examined the association between the frequency of early literacy parent-children interactions (e.g., reading together, reading labels and signs, singing songs, etc.) before they entered first grade and students’ reading scores in fourth grade, while accounting for their second-grade proficiency. I observed that parents frequently engaged in literacy interactions with their children, that those interactions significantly predicted students’ later reading proficiency, and that the effect was steeper for families with high SES than for those with low SES. In the second study, I explored the association between parents’ reading motivation and frequency and their children’s. I examined data of students from sixth, eight, and tenth grade. I found that adolescents were more likely to be motivated and frequent readers if their parents were also keen readers. I also found that SES was a powerful predictor of the likelihood of being a keen reader, and that the effect of having a keen-reading parent was more positively pronounced for adolescents with low SES than for those with high SES. In the third study, I explored whether tenth graders’ reading motivation and frequency was associated to their reading scores. I observed that a large percentage of students who were proficient readers in fourth grade failed to achieve proficiency in tenth grade and that the odds of achieving proficiency in tenth grade increased when students were motivated and frequent readers. Furthermore, students’ odds of being proficient readers increased when their classmates reported high levels of reading motivation and frequency of reading. I discuss the implications of this and my other two studies.