Word-processing skills develop even past fifth grade
A new study published in the journal Developmental Science questions that assumption, showing that children are still learning to read past fourth and even fifth grade.
The shift to automatic word-processing, in which the brain recognizes whether a group of symbols constitutes a word within milliseconds, allowing fluid reading that helps the reader focus on the content of the text rather than on the words, may occur later than previously thought.
“So if fourth-graders aren’t quite reading to learn, then when does the shift toward more complete automatic word-processing occur? According to Coch, that probably happens some time between fifth grade and college—a period she says that hasn’t been studied.
For now, the results strongly suggest that reading skills need to continue to be nurtured during that period. “
This certainly does suggest that teachers beyond fourth grade are still teachers of reading,” says Coch.