Friday, March 26, 2010

You Mean Phonics Alone Doesn't Work?

Many years ago we did reading workshops for parents and teachers at our store. The presenter, Dolores Hiskes, had the participants read a phonetic passage in a foreign language. Everyone carefully sounded out the words, which were broken into syllables. After everyone read the passage, perfectly, she asked us what it meant. Guess what - phonetic decoding isn't reading!

Progress stalls on NAEP
The Christian Science Monitor reports that for the first time since 2003, America's fourth-graders made no improvement in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the "nation's report card." Achievement gaps between whites and blacks, whites and Hispanics, boys and girls, public and private school students, and low-income students and their middle- or upper-income peers also remained unchanged, compared with 2007 and with 1992, when NAEP was first administered. Overall, "we've stopped making gains, we've stopped closing gaps... the last thing we need right now is an educational recession," says Amy Wilkins, vice-president of the Education Trust, which works to close achievement and opportunity gaps. One "glimmer of hope," The Monitor says, is that individual states have succeeded in whittling both racial and income-based achievement gaps. Still, "anybody paying attention over the past eight years" to NCLB's implementation should not be surprised, writes Valerie Strauss on The Answer Sheet blog of The Washington Post. At its heart, NCLB supported specific approaches to literacy instruction that emphasized explicit phonics instruction and didn't do enough to foster comprehension. Reading experts warned that the program would fail, according to Strauss, but the Bush administration didn't listen.
Read more:
See the results:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Another Educator Joins the Chorus

From today's Times

I'm starting to turn this blog into a collection of anti-education policy articles from the NY Times, but the drum beat is getting stronger. Here's a bit from today's installment:

Among the topics on which Dr. Ravitch has reversed her views is the main federal law on public schools, No Child Left Behind, which is up for a rewrite in coming weeks in Congress. She once supported it, but now says its requirements for testing in math and reading have squeezed vital subjects like history and art out of classrooms.

Do you think?