Close the education gap: Students who read paperbacks score better in reading tests

Close the education gap: Students who read paperbacks score better in reading tests
Children reading. Credit: Andrew Ebrahim at Unsplash

Students that read paper books do better in reading tests than students who read mostly digital books, according to a OECD's Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2018 in 2018. The 2018 PISA report showed that pupils from socio-economically disadvantaged families have more access to digital resources, but less access to hardcopy and paperbacks.

Increasing amount of people are reading books digitally due to advantages, such as the lighter format of an e-reader, more searchable texts and the fact that they are often cheaper than paperbacks. But the OECD report from July showed a clear link between paperbacks and better reading results, even as socially disadvantaged families read more books in digital formats.

Impact of socio-economic background

In 2009, just 75% of people from lower socio-economic groups had access to internet at home, while 97% of students from more privileged families had internet access. Almost a decade later in 2018, the digital was almost completely closed and 94% of students from disadvantaged families has internet at home, while 99% of privileged students had it at home.

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But while the digital gap is narrowing between social groups, the socio-economic gap in access books remains. The OECD considered the number of books in the home, a number which fell for all groups between 2000-2018. Among privileged families, the number fell from 250 in 2000 to 215 in 2018.For students from more disadvantaged backgrounds, that figure dropped from 133 to 107 in the same time frame.

"Compared to students who read little or never, students who mainly read paper books score 49 points more," the OECD report reads.

The PISA test is the OECD's international survey that measures the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds.


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