Wednesday, March 24, 2010

USA National "Report Card" Released

The nation's students are mired at a basic level of reading in fourth and eighth grade . . . . 

From The New York Times: “The nation has done a really good job improving math skills,” said Mark Schneider, a former official with the Department of Education that oversees the congressionally-mandated test, known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or the nation’s report card. “In contrast, we have made only marginal improvements in reading skills.”

The article continues: "In seeking to explain the lagging reading scores, some experts point to declines in the amount of reading children do for pleasure as they devote more free time to surfing the Internet, texting on cellphones or watching television. Others say undemanding curriculums in reading may be to blame. 

For example, Susan Pimentel, an expert on English and reading standards who is a member of the governing board that oversees the test, said that American schools were fairly efficient at teaching basic reading skills in the early grades, but that as students matured they need to be consistently challenged to broaden those skills by reading not only complex literature but also sophisticated nonfiction in subjects like history and science. 

'We’re not asking them to read nearly enough, and we’re especially not asking them to read enough complex materials,' Ms. Pimentel said." 

From the Washington Post: The report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that fourth-grade reading scores stalled after the law took effect in 2002, rose modestly in 2007, then stalled again in 2009. Eighth-grade scores showed a slight uptick since 2007 -- 1 point on a scale of 500 -- but no gain over the seven-year span when President George Bush's program for school reform was in high gear.

From Education News: Reading scores stayed flat for 4th graders and rose only slightly for 8th graders on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, results that some find disappointing after many years of intensive attention to improving the reading skills of American students.

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