Kids still aren’t reading much. It’s as simple as that. I taught high school English for 37 years, and saw over and over again that the best students, in all subjects, were the avid readers. Avid readers read better, write better, concentrate better, and have wider frames of reference that help them excel in all subjects.
Kids who read book after book after book learn how to process information more efficiently. They’ve kept multiple plots straight, understood complex characters, become sensitive to theme and tone. They are continually pulled into the viewpoints of various narrators, and so become aware of different layers of meaning.
The current practice, of assigning class books for everyone to read—and then dragging the class through with comprehension questions, vocabulary lessons, and assigned papers--does nothing to develop a habit and love of reading. Au contraire. It drives kids away from books.