Washington: A study has revealed that learning to read does not end in 4th grade, contrary to the traditional theory that fourth grade is when students stop learning to read and start reading to learn.
A new Dartmouth study shows that fourth-graders do not experience a change in automatic word processing, a crucial component of the reading shift theory and instead, some types of word processing become automatic before fourth grade, while others don't switch until after fifth.
The study's author, Donna Coch, Associate Professor of Education, said that teachers at all levels of elementary school must think of themselves as reading instructors.
The researcher further added that because of the theory developed from behavioral evidence, some teachers in fifth and sixth grade never thought of themselves as reading instructors, but the brain waves showed that students in those grades were still learning to process words automatically; their neurological reading system was not yet adult-like.
The phenomenon was evidence that young readers do not fully develop automatic word processing skills until after fifth grade, which contradicts the fourth-grade reading shift theory.
The brain waves also showed that the third, fourth, and fifth-graders processed real words, psuedowords, and letter strings similarly to college students, suggesting that some automatic word processing begins before the fourth grade, and even before the third grade, also contradicting the reading shift theory.
This study was published in the journal Developmental Science.