Effects of Reading Difficulties on Academic Performance among Form Three Students in Public Secondary Schools, Kiambu County, Kenya
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The purpose of the study was to determine the extent to which reading difficulties affect academic performance of secondary school students. The study objective was to establish comprehension errors that affect students’ academic performance. Piaget (1983) theory of cognitive development guided this study. This study employed quantitative approaches for data collection and analyzes both teachers and learners. The research design was a descriptive survey design. Data was collected by use of questionnaires for teachers of English and student’s cloze test and reading passage. The actual data collection took two weeks. Data from questionnaires, cloze test and reading passage were compiled, edited and coded according to the themes of the study. Quantitative data was analyzed by use of statistical packages for social sciences (SPSS). Likert Scale and chi-square test were also used to measure the strength of the relationship between different variable. The target population comprised of 10 principals/deputy principals, 22 teachers of English language and 500 students from 10 public mixed day secondary schools in Kiambu District, Kiambu County. The sample of the study included 10 teachers of English and 100 form three students from 5sampled schools. Purposive sampling was used to select schools, teachers of English, boys and girls from form three class. Findings from the reading test indicated that students who had less problems with word substitution, omission, mispronunciation and addition scored highly (B+ - C+) in the end of the term on exam, and a significance relationship (p>0.05) between these and academic performance was established. Cloze test performance where 5 per cent of the students performed below average and students end of term one exam where all the sampled schools have less than a mean grade of 5 were indicators of poor academic performance as a result of reading difficulties. Teachers indicated that there are dropouts (40%), repeaters (20%) and absentees (40%). It was established that ninety percent of the teachers of English experienced problems in teaching reading. Sixty per cent of the teachers did not conduct library lessons at all due to lack of library resources. Students ignoring or misinterpreting punctuations while reading was another common problem experienced by majority of the teachers. The study recommends that teachers of English should be in-serviced regularly and that the school administration should ensure availability of library resource and reference materials through the Ministry of Education. The government and school administration should come up with measures whereby chronic absenteeism as a result of lack of school fees in public mixed day secondary schools is minimized.