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March 1, 2012
Vol. 69
No. 6

Double Take

Research Alert

The Nation's Report Card: Reading 2011

Results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading, also known as "The Nation's Report Card," are in, and they're somewhat underwhelming. The short version is that little has changed since 1992, and almost no change has occurred since the last administration of the test in 2009.
The 2011 reading assessment was given to about 213,000 4th graders and 168,000 8th graders. Results are reported on a scale of 0 to 500 and are broken down by three achievement levels: basic, proficient, and advanced.
Here's how the students fared:
  • The percentages of 4th graders performing at or above basic (67 percent); at or above proficient (34 percent); or at advanced (8 percent) did not change significantly from 2009.
  • The percentages of 8th graders performing at or above basic (76 percent); at or above proficient (34 percent); or at advanced (3 percent) changed only slightly, with the percentage of students performing at or above proficient moving up two points.
There were some interesting tidbits, however:
  • Average scores for 4th graders were higher than in 2009 for four states (Alabama, Hawaii, Maryland, and Massachusetts) and lower for two states (Missouri and South Dakota).
  • The gap between the average scores of white and black students did not significantly differ from 2009.
  • The gap between the average scores of white and Hispanic 8th graders narrowed by two points since 2009.
  • Ten states improved their 8th grade reading scores compared with their 2009 scores, and no states showed lower scores in 8th grade reading.
The Nation's Report Card: Reading 2011 is available at http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading_2011.

World Spin

Reading for Joy

In Ontario, Canada, the research group People for Education has found that the percentage of students who like to read is on the decline. Just one-half of the 240,000 3rd graders and 6th graders surveyed said they liked to read; 10 years ago, 76 percent of 3rd graders and 65 percent of 6th graders said they enjoyed reading. Ontario's minister of education noted that the decline in reading for pleasure is a trend in developed countries.

Only Online

Ever Wonder?

Wonderopolis, a website created by the National Center for Family Literacy, can help parents and teachers draw elementary-age children into literacy-strengthening conversations and activities too fun to resist. Daily, the site posts kid-friendly content organized around that day's "wonder"—a question such as, "Where is the 100-Acre Wood?" or "Who was Mother Goose?" Each wonder is accompanied by
  • An interesting video clip.
  • Several paragraphs of simple text that introduce content related to the question.
  • Learning activities that kids can do at home. ("Write your own short story about a couple of characters based on your own favorite stuffed animals.")
  • Vocabulary featured in the text.
  • A "Still Wondering" section that offers links to content on other sites (such as book lists, podcasts, and lesson plans).
There's a place after each wonder for kids to add their comments and respond to those of others. Also, the site offers a clickable list of all past wonders alphabetized by category, from "animals" to "writing."
Wonderopolis is only one of dozens of downloadable resources available on the National Center for Family Literacy's website. Check out the Celebrate Literacy Calendar and the online parent magazine for terrific literacy-related ideas.

Relevant Reads

Transforming Literacy: Changing Lives Through Reading and Writing by Robert P. Waxler and Maureen P. Hall (Emerald Publishing, 2011)
Although science and math are crucial to education in the digital age, we must keep reading and writing at the heart of the educational process, write the authors. They argue that the Socratic dictum "know thyself" is as important in the modern world as it was in ancient Greece. With an interdisciplinary focus, this book centers on enlarging teachers' understanding of how the language arts can satisfy the basic human desire to know and understand ourselves and contribute to education in the 21st century.
"Being human is dependent on our use of language to shape our ideas and the ideas of others. The classroom, with its potentialities for community interchange, is the right place for deep reading, deep writing, and face-to-face discussion with others." (p. 149)

Numbers of Note

66 The percentage of children ages 9–17 surveyed who say they will always want to read books printed on paper, even when e-books are available.
47 The percentage of children surveyed who cite "giving me time away from technology" as a reason they read books.
91 The percentage of children ages 6–17 surveyed who say they are more likely to finish a book they choose themselves.
Source: Scholastic & Harrison Group. (2010). 2010 kids and family reading report: Turning the page in the digital age. Retrieved from Scholastic at www.scholastic.com/readingreport. Based on a nationally representative sample of 1,045 children ages 6–17.

Page Turner

"I asked him why he was reading Junie B. Jones if he didn't like it, and he said, 'It's at my level; it's all I'm allowed to read.'"
—Pam Allyn, p. 16

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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