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

. . .a pupil attitude factor, which appears to have a stronger relationship to achievement than do all the “school” factors together, is the extent to which an individual feels that he has some control over his own destiny. James Coleman, 1966

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The fiction vs. non-fiction debate: A distraction from a more important question

Sent to the Los Angeles Times, Dec. 27, 2012

The debate over fiction vs. non-fiction in the Common Core is diverting us from a more important question: should we have common core standards?

The rational for the standards is the belief that our schools are “broken.” There is no evidence this is true: Middle class American students who attend well-funded schools score at the top of the world on international tests. Our unspectacular scores are because US has such a high percentage of child poverty, 23.1%, the second-highest percentage among 34 economically advanced countries. High-scoring Finland has less than 5.3% child poverty.

Poverty means poor diet, poor health care, and little access to books; all have a devastating effect on school performance.

There is no evidence that standards and tests improve school achievement. The money budgeted for standards and tests to enforce the standards should be used to protect children from the effects of poverty.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Re LA Times editorial: “What students read,” Dec. 27, 2012: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-1227-fiction-20121227,0,5254333.story

Levels of child poverty: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre (2012), ‘Measuring Child Poverty: New league tables of child poverty in the world’s rich countries’, Innocenti Report Card 10, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence.

Impact of poverty:
Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13;
Bracey, G. 2009. The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/Bracey-Report;
Berliner, D. 2011. The Context for Interpreting PISA Results in the USA: Negativism, Chauvinism, Misunderstanding, and the Potential to Distort the Educational Systems of Nations. In Pereyra, M., Kottoff, H-G., and Cowan, R. (Eds.). PISA under examination: Changing knowledge, changing tests, and changing schools. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers.
Neuman, S.B. and Celano, D. 2001. Access to print in low-income and middle-income communities: An ecological study of four neighborhoods. Reading Research Quarterly, 36, 1, 8-26.

Impact of standards and tests:
Loveless, T. 2011. How well are American students learning? The 2010 Brown Center Report on American Education. The Brown Foundation: Houston.
Nichols, S., Glass, G., and Berliner, D. 2006. High-stakes testing and student achievement: Does accountability increase student learning? Education Policy Archives 14(1). http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v14n1/.
OECD 2011. Lessons from PISA for the United States, Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education, OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264096660-en

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