Well this should just scare the feces right out of the American Public. Though I am sure with so many things to knock our socks off, this may not make it into an adequately high, priority of concern.
High School Students with English as a First Language, who are not suffering a medical issue, should be reading much higher than at the 5th Grade level.
You can read the whole story here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...
To give you a hint, when I was active duty, most military instruction manuals were written for people who had the reading comprehension and decoding skills of at least an 8th Grader.
Let that sink in a moment. Because I took a lot of abuse for that fact alone. The running joke suggested that the 8th grade level was the maximum reading level an enlisted person could reach. And 8th Grade reading comprehension is nothing to crow about.
All the signs have been here for a while.
Remember years ago when Harry Potter books hit the shelves. Many conservative parents hated those books. But the teachers were very clear that they had problems getting children to read, to find joy in reading. And the Potter Books intrigued many young-non-readers, into reading.
“The Harry Potter craze was a very positive thing for kids,” said Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, who has reviewed statistics from federal and private sources that consistently show that children read less as they age. “It got millions of kids to read a long and reasonably complex series of books. The trouble is that one Harry Potter novel every few years is not enough to reverse the decline in reading.”http://www.nytimes.com/...
Basically the message I heard was: Let them read whatever they want, just get those kids to read! Damnit!
That should have been a wake up call right then and there.
But the NYT story goes on to point out:
“Unless there are scaffolds in place for kids — an enthusiastic adult saying, ‘Here’s the next one’ — it’s not going to happen,” said Nancie Atwell, the author of “The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers” and a teacher in Edgecomb, Me. “And in way too many American classrooms it’s not happening.”Now we have literacy programs in place encouraging new parents to read to their infants and toddlers and to read with their younger children in order to foster this practice of regular reading for pleasure as a habit.
Only problem is:
And it's the same problem I encountered as a child.
Many children who are taught to read before Kindergarten go on to have problems in the early grades.
They are bored, and the teachers do not necessarily have the resources to accommodate advanced readers who are ahead of the class. So those children regress in their reading skills, develop behavior problems due to boredom and negative feedback, and it just goes down hill from there.
This isn't the whole of the problem, but I suspect that it is a large part of this problem
Read more below the squiggle
This is an excerpt from the Well Trained Mind. I thought perhaps my issues being an early reader were unusual. I was shocked when I read this book. Not only is this not a rare problem, but it has been institutionalized in a dysfunctional system.
To set you up for the story, basically the parent, one of the authors of the book prepares her son for school, by teaching him phonics as a pre-schooler.
We are encouraged to do this. Good parents interact with their children. Bad parents plant their kids in front of tv sets or in front of video games. So many parents, including mine, and I--myself took this basic instruction to heart.
Children's Literacy Foundation Commercial
Electric Company Literacy Commercial PBS
Ad Council Literacy For Life
She repeated this with her daughter as well.
Her son started developing behavioral problems in school. He was bored, he had been stigmatized by his skill and being moved back and forth between the first and second grades. "Everyday, Bob got off the bus with a handful of bad papers, and he was either fighting mad, or crying. "
"At this point, Jay and I realized that were spending most of our time with this child trying to undo what has happening to him when he was at school. And we were afraid that our second child, Susan, would go through the same metamorphosis. Susan had just started Kindergarten, and the teacher was already protesting to us that she would be a social misfit because she wanted to read during free time instead of playing. We were experiencing firsthand the terrific leveling pressure applied in so many schools: the effort to smooth out the bumbs by bringing well prepared kids down to the level of the rest. (Bauer and Wise pp 5, The Well Trained Mind). "To me this issue is simply because we have too few teachers and too many students crammed in each classroom.
The teachers are forced to trade the best parts of their craft for the convenience of crowd control. They suffer, the kids suffer, and years down the line, we all suffer. If for this problem alone, I would advocate for much smaller classrooms. We need fewer children per teacher.
"Just this year, the best private preschool in our area agreed to stop teaching four year olds beginning reading skills. Kindergarten teachers in the local public schools had complained that the children turned out by this preschool were bored in kindergarten because they already knew the material. The schools demanded that the preschool quit turning out such well-prepared five year olds so that all the kindergarteners would start at the same level of ignorance. I was appalled with the preschool buckled and went back to teaching colors and "social skills (Ibid).""This is the part that echoes in my brain: "The schools demanded that the preschool quit turning out such well-prepared five year olds so that all the kindergarteners would start at the same level of ignorance."
Not too long ago, while listening to National Public Radio, All Things Considered was covering A Wrinkle In Time.
The Unlikely Best-Selling: 'A Wrinkle In Time' Turns 50. http://www.npr.org/...
One of my personal all time favorite books as a child. And when my eldest was 6, she read it and really enjoyed it. She has since read it for fun a couple more times and followed that up with A Wind in The Door and Swiftly Tilted Planet.
So imagine our surprise when we heard that a class was reading a Wrinkle in Time, and it was 8th Graders. Sure it's not the end of the world and it's a great book, but it sort of blew our minds. Scholastic lists the grade level of a Wrinkle in Time to be 5.8.
We can do better for our children. But the only way to do that in a public school setting is to adequately fund our schools and to do it intelligently.
Just throwing money at a problem won't make things better. We need to push back--not just as parents, but as citizens. The educational success of our children will directly affect our prosperity as a nation, and it will also directly affect our qualities as a culture.
This isn't the only problem that our schools have currently.
I still encourage people to teach their children to read early. I am a big fan of phonics. I love Hooked On Phonics programs, which you can buy with DVDs to use on a computer now. You can even check these programs out from some public libraries. There are also free programs and games you can find online that are based on phonics. This teaches your child to be a better decoder, and in my opinion gives them a better foundation that leads to better reading comprehension skills.
You can learn more about decoding here: http://www.education.com/...
We desperately need smaller classrooms. We are setting our teachers up for failure. If you give someone a large problem and then remove their access to adequate resources to alleviate that problem, then yes, you are setting that person up for failure. Some might succeed in spite of that, perhaps a combination of fabulous talent and luck--but for the rest of those mere mortals, we should make these educational issues bite sized instead of planet sized. A class crammed with 25 to 40 kids guarantees that the teacher will be teaching to the most disruptive children while ignoring the kids who can sit still, who want to learn.
We shouldn't be relying on luck for quality classrooms. We should be supporting our teachers with reasonable, logistically sound policies and material.
We shouldn't be punishing children for being ahead, anymore than we should punish other children for being behind, or those kids who are right on time. The One Size Fits None paradigm needs to be thrown out the window in favor of something that works.
This is just one facet of the challenges facing our culture today in terms of educating the next generation of leaders. I would emphasize, regardless of your confidence [or lack thereof] in these children or their parents, eventually the kids you see today will be the ones calling the shots, while we are dragging ourselves along in our walkers.
The kids you blow off today, will be the adults calling the shots for you, in your sunset years--tomorrow.