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

Monday, January 27, 2014

Misreading Florida

The headline appears simple enough:

Fla. Pushes Longer Day, More Reading in Some Schools

Gewertz explains:
Two years ago, Florida took a step no other state has taken to improve students' reading skills: It required its 100 lowest-performing elementary schools to add an extra hour to their school day and to use that time for reading instruction. Early results suggest the new initiative may be paying off.
This EdWeek article is typical of how the media covers education since little consideration is given to important nuances.

The Florida plan, essentially, appears to be adding an hour each day for reading instruction that is designed to raise reading scores.

As is typical of such coverage, the real response should be "well, duh" as it seems highly likely that this strategy would work.

What is missing, however, is any consideration of how credible reading test scores are as metrics of reading ability and possibly more importantly any student's commitment to reading as a pleasurable and valuable part of her/his life.

The real story here is that Florida represents the complete failure of bureaucracy to confront authentic reading.

I don't know if students need another hour in school, but it is clear what students need in terms of reading: Greater access to books in their homes and schools (libraries), and large blocks of time for choice reading.

I suggest a better headline for any coverage of Florida's plan:

More Time for Reading Instruction and Reading Tests Is Not Reading

1 comment:

  1. So true and so sad that Florida's children will be subjected to yet another seemingly misguided plan that promises to turn them off to reading forever. I say "seemingly" because the plan is misguided from a pedagogical but not a corporatist point of view. The corporate bosses behind this whole mess, besides profiting from increased sales of materials and of course tests, will be adding to their ever-growing supply of uninformed, uncritical cheap labor, manipulable voters, and military pawns.

    And who will "teach" this extra hour? Regular teachers with no extra compensation, "trained" by "education" companies? The companies themselves? Expensive machines (with minimum-wage proctors) purchased by the districts?

    And what will students be missing in this after-school hour into which all "enrichment"" activities have been shunted?