Research has shown that kids who are not able to read by the end of third grade have high risks to remain poor readers, fall behind in other academic fields, and to drop out of high school. Overall, people who struggle with reading are more likely to live in poverty and to end up in the criminal justice system. Kids have trouble learning to read when phonics - a key part of the reading process - are not taught at school. And one of the main reasons for this negligence it that teachers aren't well trained to teach phonics.

Poverty is an excuse that educators have used for a long time to explain poor reading performance. But it's an unsatisfactory explanation since, according to some estimates, about one-third of America's struggling readers come from college-educated families. Actually, all children can learn to read if they are taught the right way, but it doesn't happen in many American elementary schools, where the basic assumption is that learning to read is a natural process, just like learning to talk.

Indeed, decades of research has demonstrated that the human brain isn't basically wired to read. This is a skill that doesn't come naturally and young students must be explicitly taught how to connect sounds with letters. What is called "phonics".

Picture: Whole-class phonics (Emily Hanford - APM Reports)