Monday, July 29, 2013

We don’t need threatening and useless tests, and we don't need "fluency training."

Sent to the East Valley Tribune (Arizona), July 29, 2013
Arizona requires children to read “proficiently” by grade three. If they do not, they will be retained. East Valley's strategy to help children pass the grade three test is a greater emphasis on "fluency" training and testing ("East Valley teachers turn to 1-on-1 learning, reading groups," July 28).
There is an easier, more pleasant way to improve reading achievement.
First, studies show that there is nothing magic about third grade: Poor reading at any grade predicts poor reading later on. 
Second, research shows that students of all ages can make remarkable progress if they develop a reading habit. "Fluency" is the result of extensive reading for pleasure, not direct training. 
For many students, the only source of books is the library. Studies consistently show that better libraries, staffed with qualified librarians, are associated with higher reading scores.
We don’t need threatening and useless tests, and we don't need "fluency training." We need to improve our school libraries and support our librarians. 
Stephen Krashen
Some sources: 
“Nothing magic ..”: Krashen, S. 2011. Need children read “proficiently” by grade 3? Language Magazine 11,2: 24-27. 2011
Fluency the result: Goodman, K. 2006. The Truth about Dibels. Portsmouth: Heinemann
Students at all ages: Krashen, S. and McQuillan, J. 2007. Late intervention. Educational Leadership 65 (2): 68-73.
Better libraries ….: Krashen, S., Lee, SY., and McQuillan, J. 2012. Is the library important? Multivariate studies at the national and international level. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 8(1): 26-36. Lance, Keith. The Impact of School Libraries on Student Achievement.

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