Literacy is the key to success


Path To Graduation: Literacy

Written & Produced By Caroline Carter, Grade 10, Oneonta High School

You might not think about it, but you use literacy skills all day long. When you are checking your texts, reading your emails, reading road signs, filling out forms, reading food labels, and taking tests… To do all of those things, you use literacy skills.

But did you know, that according to a 2014 survey, 1 in 7 adults in the United States cannot read?

“Literacy really is the foundation for educational success,” explains principal Thomas Brindley. “I believe it’s the foundation for success in life in general.” Mr. Brindley is principal of Oneonta High School.

A second school administrator compares general and individualized learning: “The best models of education recognize that every student is an individual. So, individualized learning plans for every student is something that we strive to develop and something that every kid can benefit from,” says Thomas Jennings, superintendent of the Schenevus Central School District in Upstate New York.

This made me wonder: How is learning different for English-first-language students to students learning English as a second language?

student headshot
Caroline Carter, YouthVoice Student Producer

“There are dynamics and fundamentals to [a student’s] first language that may be different from English,” says Brindley. “It is important for the teacher to understand the fundamentals of that first language, in order to either make the parallels to English or to educate that student as to what is different about the English language, as opposed to their first language.”

How do we make sure that every student is on the same level?

“We’re never going to make certain that all students are on the same level in terms of literacy,” says Jennings. “But what we can ensure is that students are pushed as far as they can be, as fast as they can be. The opportunity to learn is essential, and recognizing that it is our responsibility to push students as far as they can is what matters.”

Because everyone learns differently, students need to be offered a variety of ways to gain knowledge. Literacy is the key to communication, a career, and success.


This video was scripted, voiced, and edited by 10th grade student, Caroline Carter. In partnership with the Oneonta Family YMCA, students explore education topics of personal interest while learning production skills from WSKG’s youth media curriculum.

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American Graduate is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.