George Lucas Educational Foundation

Why Do Administrators Settle For Low Reading Scores??

Why Do Administrators Settle For Low Reading Scores??

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I recently compiled a Bill of Rights for Students 2012 and decided that the first and most important right had to be: THE RIGHT TO LEARN TO READ. Somehow this right is being routinely violated. Recent NAEP scores indicate that two-thirds of eighth graders are below “proficient” in reading. The whole country should be angry about this news. (But my local newspaper reported it as ho-hum-what’s-new?) I would like to understand why (and how) the administrators continue to use teaching methods that don’t work. How do we get the Education Establishment to test out new ideas, and to start producing readers instead of functional illiterates? Please explain the forces operating in your school that keep our reading scores so low. (I believe it’s well-known that all phonics programs claim they will teach children to read in the first grade, and that by the second grade children should be reading age-appropriate books which they have selected. Isn’t this the only acceptable goal? Shouldn't administrators who are not at least trying to reach this standard be replaced?)

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Bruce Deitrick Price's picture
Bruce Deitrick Price

No comments in 3 weeks. This means the administrators are beyond reproach or that teachers are scared to speak out???

Dorothea Doyle's picture
Dorothea Doyle
third grade teacher

We have been an SFA school for 14 years, and we try to follow the daily schedule to a "T"

Nonetheless, were are in year 3 of being an underachieving school. Our ESl population has gone from 9-11% ten years ago to 64 % now. (Actually, that is incorrect by my count because three quarters of my classroom are second language learners.) We get hammered by the SFA people, saying that we are not following the program. We are not allowed to spend time giving background info or scaffolding because if it is day 3, you MUST finish day 3.

I am sure that this research-based program is not alone in this problem. Of note, although our second language learners are primarily Latino, SFA has very,very few materials that feature Latino characters, culture, etc. So, background knowledge is ALWAYS needed.

All this failure for tens of thousands of dollars a year!

Bruce Deitrick Price's picture
Bruce Deitrick Price

As chance would have it, just today Don Potter, phonics guru, sent this note:

"The situation in the local public schools is getting worse. This year they threw out
Open Court phonics, which wasn't really working very well, and switched to
Guided-Reading. Take a look at Pinnell & Fountas. This is a perfect example of "how
not to teach reading."

They also are limiting English instruction for Hispanic bilingual students to 45
minutes per day in the elementary classes, only 20 in pre-kindergarten. That isn't nearly enough time to develop any degree of competence in the language. I asked why they are restricting the English. I was told that the students were not developing their Spanish
sufficiently to do serious academic work. Somehow limiting English is supposed to
boost their overall academic performance and help them do better academically in
English when they do get to high school....

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