Friday, September 28, 2007

California reading scores shameful -again.

California reading scores shameful- again: National Scores essentially stagnant.

Governors, Senators, and Assemblymembers , and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction have given many speeches, but as of last year they had not provided more funds for the schools. This makes for large class sizes. The results of their budget decisions are in.
The NAEP Reading Scores for California give an average score of 209; we rank right along with Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia.
The NAEP results are important because schools and teachers can drill for the state tests, but NAEP measures against a national standard of whether children can actually read (NAEP, 2007). California has remained with these poverty stricken states for the last 12 years. Remember when the ideologues all claimed that by switching to phonics reading scores were going to go up? Or, others claimed that by eliminating bilingual education would produce dramatic gains. Well- where is the data?

Scores are similarly shameful for 8th. Graders with even Alabama out scoring California.

So, what do you do if you are an elected official, responsible for providing adequate resources but failing to do so? Well, you change the subject. You talk about state tests, where teaching to the test is possible, and the “achievement gap”. Stressing the achievement gap –which is real- places the responsibility and the blame on teachers and parents and shifts the focus away from the resource gap created by inadequate budgets.

This year new money began to be sent to low performing schools. It will take several years of consistently improved funding to overcome the reading deficits imposed upon our children in the last decade.

On the national level, the reading scores are essentially stable for the last decade. That is, there was no progress produced by No Child Left Behind. (perhaps because in part it was under funded by 52 Billion). You have to read the scores carefully since the U.S. Dept. of Education has become skilled at the process of claiming great progress for a one or two point gain. But, compare the scores over the last ten years and you will find very little change.

National scores on the math exams have improved over the same decades. More to come on that issue.
Duane Campbell
Professor of Education
author: Choosing Democracy: a practical guide to multicultural education. ( 2004)
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