Education Week has an article on the NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] report on reading for grades 4 and 8:
Little Progress Seen in Student Results on Reading NAEP – Catherine Gewertz
“What NAEP shows us over the past two decades is that in reading there have been only slight gains and no sustained trend of improvement,” Steven L. Paine, West Virginia’s commissioner of education and a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP, said at a news conference to announce the results. He called the findings “disappointing” given the “considerable amount of effort” devoted to improving reading. Even the 1-point 8th grade gain, while statistically significant, “is not sufficient,” he said.
Building reading skills has been one of the main focuses for states for more than a decade as they have set up accountability systems aimed at raising achievement.
At the federal level, the Reading Excellence Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1998, brought attention to the need for improved reading instruction. The National Reading Panel’s 2000 report, which called for better approaches to teaching reading, was a key source in crafting the $6 billion Reading First program launched by President George W. Bush as part of the No Child Left Behind Act, signed in 2002.
More than a decade, all those billions and:
The lack of improvement in 4th grade reading between 2007 and 2009 is “especially disappointing,” Mr. Paine said, because it parallels the latest NAEP math results at that grade level. Those results, however, showed far more growth over time in students’ progress than the new report shows in their reading progress.
One reason for the difference, he said, could be that learning math is largely confined to math classrooms, and the subject is taught with cohesive, sequential curricula reflecting standards adopted by national math groups and echoed in textbooks. Reading comprehension, by contrast, is acquired across all courses, with “no similar cohesion or emphasis” on a clear reading curriculum, he said.
Over the years, stories from homeschooling family’s about how their kids learned to be readers are filled with everything but “‘similar cohesion or emphasis’ on a clear reading curriculum.”
As taxpayers (where those billions come from) we deserve to know our money is spent wisely and that those spending, and receiving, are accountable. In the context of public schooling this means there will be testing, which makes kids accountable for the system’s ‘success,’ and, ‘solutions’ will continue to double down on what has not been working:
Some officials saw the NAEP results as a call to arms. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged support for putting the administration’s key education reforms, such as higher, common standards and better assessments, into practice.
Read the article here.