"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reading more but test scores stagnant? Reply to Willington

A response to Daniel Willington, who asks "Why doesn’t reading more make us better readers?" Why are we reading more but NAEP scores are not improving?

Controlled studies consistently show that more reading leads to better reading, and there are a lot of them (see Krashen, S. 2004, The Power of Reading, second edition, published by Libraries Unlimited and Heinemann Press). These scientific studies are more telling than crude correlations with large populations.

Nevertheless:
1. Quantity of reported voluntary reading has correlated with NAEP scores over and over. See the many reports for individual NAEP tests in past years.

2. Overall, there is more reading going on. But there is also more child poverty, now at 25% (the largest of all industrialized countries, compare to Denmark at 2%). Children of poverty have very little access to books at home, school or in their communities, and thus have lower NAEP scores. The low scoring high poverty group lowers the overall score to a greater extent every time the NAEP is given. This is more likely the reason more reading has not resulted in higher NAEP scores over the years, not the suggestion that we are doing more "lighter" reading.

But Willington raises a good question: Are children and adults reading more "lightweight" reading than before? This is an empirical question that should be investigated scientifically.

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