Yes, we need to improve the teaching and learning of history. If we are sincere about it, we not only need to take new approaches, but we need to make sure those approaches -like video – align with student interests and preferences.
We should be furious with the state of student literacy performance, as evidenced by the most recent NAEP scores. But we our anger should be directed at those adults who still aren’t prioritizing evidence-based reading instruction.
We explore the topic on the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen.
Now that the dust has finally settled on the most-recent dump of NAEP scores, we must admit that the results just aren’t good. For a decade now, student performance on our national reading and math tests have remained stagnant. And that stagnation is only because a few select demographics managed gains that kept everyone afloat.
At a time when we all seem to agree that today’s students need stronger and greater skills to succeed in tomorrow’s world, how can we be satisfied with stagnation? And how we can respond simply with words, with the rhetoric of how our students can and should do better?
Over on the BAM! Radio Network, we explore the topic, reflecting on both how we cannot be satisfied with our students treading water and how we need to take real action to improve teaching and learning in the classroom. Give it a listen. Then show your work.
This week, the Center for American Progress released a new report, “A Look at the Education Crisis: Tests, Standards, and the Future of of American Education.” In it, the researchers at CAP take a look at recent NAEP data to see if the state of public education is as bad as some say or on a rocketing upward trajectory as others say (guess it really depends on who your friends or online trolls are).
USA Today’s Greg Toppo has a great summary of the report here. We’ve all seen that high school graduation rates are at all-time highs. But it is hard to celebrate such a statistic when we still see that only one in five low-income fourth graders achieved reading proficiency on NAEP. Or that only 52 percent of “nonpoor” fourth graders were able to hit that proficient mark.
It doesn’t get better for eighth graders in reading. Only a third of them are proficient in cities like Charlotte, Austin, Miami, and San Diego. Boston comes it at only 28 percent proficient. NYC 27 percent. Chicago 24 percent. Philly 16 percent. Cleveland 11 percent. And Detroit at only 7 percent.
So why do these eighth grade numbers matter so much? Most of the students in the eighth grade NAEP sample never attended school when Reading First was law of the land. Sure, they may have benefited from textbooks that were developed to meet RF requirements years prior. And some of their teachers may have utilized the PD and supports they received during the height of RF. But each of these kids has now gone through eight or so years of public school where scientifically based reading instruction was not demanded nor expected.
These latest NAEP numbers, and the analysis from CAP make one thing very clear. We need scientifically based reading instruction in the classroom. Our teachers need to be prepared for it. Our elementary schools need to be based around it. Our students need to be instructed in it. And our families need to know it when they see it (and know when they aren’t seeing it in their community schools).
Yes, Reading First had implementation issues. Yes, at times it was more steel hammer than velvet glove. But can we really say we shouldn’t be using what is known to be effective in teaching kids to read? Can we really say, with all the data that we have, that early reading instruction based on phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension isn’t the correct path? Can we really say a a philosophical approach to reading trumps and research-based instructional approach? And can we really say we should’t be using what is proven effective in the classroom?
For those who condemn the Common Core’s emphasis on non-fiction texts, it is ridiculous to assume that a low-income eighth grader can read the rich literature sought when only a third of them are reading proficient in the first place.
When scientifically based reading instruction became the law of the land in 2002, it was an approach that was embraced by all comers. The teachers unions. The principals groups. The superintendents. The teacher education community. The business community. All saw the value in using proven-effective approaches to instruction. All saw the need to do something to improve literacy, particularly with low-income learners. All embraced SBRR.
We need to find that solidarity again. The most recent eighth grade NAEP scores show us that taking a different path has failed too many kids … again. We need to remember that literacy is not, or at least shouldn’t be, a political issue. Whether we want all kids to pass a high-stakes, state-based, standards-aligned exam or we want all children to find a love for learning and literature, the ability to read is a non-negotiable.
While Reading First has now been relegated to the history books for the past decade, we cannot and should not ignore the hundreds of thousands of research studies that showed the effectiveness of scientifically based instruction. We cannot and should not ignore the reality that, when SBRR was in full effect in the early to mid 2000s, reading proficiency rates were on the rise, both with the low-income students the program targeted and other learners who benefited from the focus on SBRR-based instructional materials and PD. And we cannot and should not ignore that far too many kids — particularly those that are black, brown, or low-income — are struggling when it comes to reading … and we know just what should be done to help them.
Yes, it is that time of year again. This morning, EdSec Arne Duncan officially released the reading and math scores for “The Nation’s Report Card.” The results? Recent trends continue. Overall scores continue to tick up. Reading scores for fourth graders continue to frustrate.
Five or eight years ago, after Reading First (and NCLB ) had been the law of the land, districts were implementing scientifically based reading research, and publishers were revising their curricular materials to meet the new rigor of RF, we started to see an uptick in student reading performance. Test scores were on the rise, and they were on the rise for all students.
In education reform, it is often easy to focus on the negative. A third of all kids are not reading proficient in third grade. No coincidence, the high school dropout rate is also about a third. We have stagnant test scores, even as state standards were reduced. We are slipping in international comparisons. And even the U.S. Secretary of Education says four in five public schools in our nation are likely not making adequate yearly progress.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released the latest round of NAEP scores, offering the most recent snapshot on how our nation’s students are doing when it comes to reading and math. The results were downright depressing, with the majority of kids still failing to post proficient scores and the achievement gaps growing in far too many areas.
For those looking to strap on the pom-poms for number one rankings, Connecticut did score first in seven of the 16 disaggregated categories. Of course, that’s a first place for largest gaps. And we’re in the top 10 for every single one of those 16.
The new NAEP scores are here! The new NAEP scores are here! This morning, the National Assessment Governing Board released the Civics 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress at Grades 4, 8, and 12. While trying to put a good spin on the data (civics knowledge for fourth graders is creeping up), the overall results were disappointing. For the age group that such an assessment is most important — 12th graders — scores have slipped since 2006.
For weeks now, we have been hearing about states that have decided they will not pursue Race to the Top, Part II. Over at Politics K-12 , Michele McNeil has a dozen or so states that either have decided not to apply or are dangerously close to not applying before next Tuesday’s drop-dead date for the final taste of the $4 billion pot.
This shouldn’t be surprising. More than 40 states put in hundreds upon hundreds of hours of work and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants to prepare their Phase I apps. Two states, Delaware and Tennessee, won in the early round. Those remaining states were left with detailed judges’ scores to help guide a redo due June 1. But some states simply don’t have the stomach for it, offering a host of reasons not to pursue.
Perhaps one of the most interesting reasons for declining was offered yesterday by Eduflack’s home state of Virginia. According to the Washington Post, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is not entering the Race because of the Common Core Standards. The chief executive of the Old Dominion claims that Virginia’s current academic standards are “much superior” and he doesn’t see the need of tinkering with 15 years of work to establish the current Standards of Learning.
I understand a state like Massachusetts, which is known for having some of the top performance standards in the nation to be wary of common core, but Virginia, really? When discussions turn to state standards and the leaders and laggards, one really hears about Virginia’s SOLs being at the top of the class.
Earlier this month, Eduflack wrote about the dangers of states that have reduced their standards to show performance gains on AYP. Unfortunately, we see far too many states that tout impressive records of student acheivement on their state exams and measured against their state standards, only to see that performance plummet when compared to a common yardstick like NAEP.
So let’s take another look at the data offered by Gary Phillips, a vice president at American Institutes for Research and the former acting commissioner at NCES. How does Virginia stack up? According to the SOLs, 82 percent of fourth graders in Virginia were proficient in math. But when we look at the NAEP scores, that number drops to the low 40s. It is even worse for eighth grade math, where the SOLs put proficiency at 79, but NAEP puts it under 40.
Why is this important? The NAEP is a common measure. It lets Virginia see where it stacks up compared to other states. And the numbers there are startling. In fourth grade, we are in the middle of the pack, far behind states like Massachusetts, South Carolina, Missouri, Washington, Vermont, and New Hampshire. By eighth grade, Virginia is near the bottom of the pack in such performance, only posting better numbers that seven states.
Is that really “much superior?” Are we really declaring “mission accomplished” when we are mediocre at fourth grade and drop to the bottom quartile by eighth grade? The bar we’ve set on academic standards is … at least we are better than Oklahoma?