Sent to the Pioneer Press (Twin Cities, MN)
One of the strategies Carver Elementary is using to increase its unsatisfactory test scores ("A school on the edge," Dec. 28) is "vocabulary study." Research consistently shows that by far the best way to boost vocabulary is through wide, self-selected reading. Picking up words by reading is faster than word study and gives children more complete knowledge of words. Wide reading, in fact, has a positive influence on nearly every subject taught in school.
Wide self-selected reading requires access to lots of books. For many children, especially children of poverty (38% of the Carver student population receives free or reduced price lunch), the school library is the major source of reading material. Study after study confirms that school library quality and the presence of a credentialed librarian are positively related to growth in literacy.
Carver Elementary is in a district that let all their elementary school librarians go four years ago. Now one middle school librarian is also responsible for three elementary schools. Firing the librarian and then instituting vocabulary study is like stealing all your money and then giving you a bus token to get home with.
President Elect, Minnesota Educational Media Organization
Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California
Original article at: http://www.twincities.com/ci_14070492?source=email