Thursday, October 20, 2005

NAEP Reading results and school reform choices

A little history of California schools.
In 1994, the reading scores of California schools hit bottom. We ranked 49 out of the 50 states on the NAEP exams. ( see prior articles) An educational crisis was recognized.
The reading crisis was blamed on a Whole Language approach to reading. We eliminated that. We replaced it with drilling phonics. And, we stressed standards and testing. We test teachers. We test the kids. California practically banned bilingual education. We changed the teacher preparation to a standards based approach. (SB 2042). We created a number of systems to shut down failing schools. Two governors have come and gone. ( One Republican and one Democrat).
Now, in 2004, California’s 8th. Grade students rank 49 out of the 50 states, below Louisiana and Alabama (for example).
The educational consultants who advise the governor are scrambling to reassert their prior positions. But, it is clear. The decade of business led reform has not improved reading scores.
There are at least two reforms which have not been tried;
1. listening to teachers and engaging them as professionals in school reform efforts
2. adequately funding the schools.

For more see my book, Choosing Democracy: a practical guide to multicultural education. ( 2004) Merrill/Prentice Hall.
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