Independent journalist Sarah Carr investigated reading disparities in schools and the actions people are taking to close them. Her work appeared in The Washington Post and USA Today, and was co-published by The Hechinger Report.
Marquette students Aimee Galaszewski, Lelah Byron and Yvette Craig collaborated with Carr on the series. Byron and Galaszewski produced a story on Mississippi's reading reforms appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The first installment of the series was published in March 2022. Carr reported that as children age, especially Black and Latino children, the reading gap often grew. In Fairfax County, Virginia, during the 2021-22 school year, Black students scored lower on state reading tests than white students by 17 percentage points. Dyslexia is the most common language disability, making it a key barrier.
This series breaks down how these disparities often play out through a child's life and what approaches are being taken to change that narrative. Stories examined how the right to read is becoming a civil rights issue.
Another installment in the series was published in November 2023 in Scientific American and produced with The Hechinger Report. The story examines how diagnoses for dyslexia are missed due to use of an iteration of the discrepancy model to test children for learning disabilities. Twenty percent of the U.S. population has dyslexia, yet only a fraction of affected students gets a dyslexia diagnosis. Research shows that IQ tests can be biased against Black or low-income students because the language used is more familiar to white middle- and upper-class students. For this reason, scientists question the validity of the discrepancy model and present a better approach to assessing children for learning disabilities.
Works published to date:
March 1, 2022
Why it costs a fortune to get the best test for disabilities like ADHD, autism, dyslexia
September 8, 2022
Reading reforms in Mississippi have improved scores. Are there lessons to learn about how to better teach our children?
December 19, 2022
How dyslexia became a social justice issue for Black parents
December 27, 2022
How Black activists in Northern Virginia transformed the way children learn to read
November 14, 2023
A Flawed Dyslexia Screen Leaves Thousands of Kids without Help