Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An easier, more effective way to enhance literacy

An easier, more effective way
Sent to the Times of India, June 26, 2013.
The "Project to enhance reading skills of students in government schools" (June 24) plans to increase reading ability in English and Hindi by requiring teachers to give reading assignments in both languages. There is an easier, more effective, and more pleasant way: Help students develop a voluntary, self-selected reading habit in both languages.
A growing body of research shows consistently that when interesting reading is available, young people will read. It also shows that those who read more develop higher levels of literacy, which means better reading ability, better writing ability, larger vocabulary, better spelling, and better control of complex grammatical structures.  There is also evidence that self-selected voluntary reading, pleasure reading, is more powerful than assigned reading.
The first step in making this happen is to invest in local and school libraries, with knowledgable librarians who can help young people become dedicated readers.
Stephen Krashen

…when interesting reading is available …: Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, and Westport, CONN: Libraries Unlimited (second edition). Krashen, S. 2011. Free Voluntary Reading. Westport: Libraries Unlimited.

Self-selected reading more powerful than assigned reading: Lee, S. Y. 2007. Revelations from Three Consecutive Studies on Extensive Reading. Regional Language Center (RELC) Journal 38 (2): 150-170.

Libraries: Krashen, S., Lee, S.Y. 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.

Project to enhance reading skills of students in government schools
TNN Jun 24, 2013, 06.55AM IST
AJMER: The education department will soon start an experimental 'reading project' in government schools to improve the quality of education. The reading campaign will start from July 1 in all government schools in state. Compulsory one-hour English and Hindi reading sessions will be held every day in Classes I to VIII.
The department has also formulated an evaluation system and decided grades to mark the stage of each student. Grade 'A' will be given to students who can read both English and Hindi well. While 'B' grade for students having problems in reading and 'C' grade for those who can not read in any language.
The onus of transforming 'C' grade students to 'A' grade ones will be on the teachers.
Teachers will give assignments to students to read from English and Hindi books. "Purpose of the project is to hone the students' skills to speak and read languages," said an official.
The experiment was initiated by the Rajasthan Elementary Education Council. The council was worried after getting the Sambalan Abhiyan report highlighting the inability of students up to middle level to read Hindi properly in most government schools. Their reading skills in English were far worse and multiplication and addition were alien to them.
Since no student upto Class VIII can be failed, the quality of education has suffered badly, "Promoting such students to secondary classes would have a negative impact on the board exam results," a government school teacher said.
"An evaluation will be conducted after every two months to assess the progress of the students," said Mahaveer Singh Rathore, assistant coordinator of Sarva Shikha Abhiyan.
"The evaluation will be conducted by the officials of administrative service to maintain transparency in the process. If the students get 'C' grade then their teacher will be punished," added Rathore.
Meanwhile, academicians are apprehensive since most government school teachers themselves have poor pronunciation skills. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Limited testing of the CC$$ tests & more evidence for the boondoggle

Posted on the Ed Week website, following Schools Test-Drive Common Core, June 25, 2013
S Krashen

The pilot testing of the common core assessments did not attempt to answer the major question of whether the tests are valid: do the tests (and standards) contribute to higher school achievement? Previous studies confirm that more testing does not lead to more achievement.

Administrators pointed out that the current infrastructure is inadequate and that upgrades, new devices and replacements will be necessary:
"'Obviously, there is concern that if computers are three years old, they won't be able to do certain things. So we are examining what we have in place and determining what we need to have in place to do what we need to do with online testing.'
The district plans to upgrade its Wi-Fi system and bandwidth this summer, he says. It is also considering buying more devices so that students can take the online assessments in their classrooms and in the library, rather than having them all in computer labs."
And that this will cost quite a bit:
"Rose-Ann McKernan, the executive director of instructional accountability for the Albuquerque schools, says the technology director for the district is worried about server and network capacity at the schools. Making all the necessary upgrades could cost millions of dollars, she says.
The district could use money from the state allocated to schools for technology to buy new computers and to make other technology improvements, McKernan says. The district may also appeal to the state legislature for more funds for technology improvements."
We can expect upgrading and replacement to continue indefinitely. A boondoggle that will last forever.
Other posts:

Roseanne Eckert  (2 posts)

1. How much did they pay the children for their services?

2. "You want a kid to take a test that relates to what is going on in the classroom," Cummings says. "The only way to make the Smarter Balanced assessments meaningful is if common core is effectively integrated into the coursework." In other words, teaching to the test. More of the same.

Chuck Jordan : Now we know why Bill Gates etc. have "donated" so much money to "education."

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Is earlier better in foreign language acquisition?

 Is earlier better in foreign language acquisition?
Sent to the Dallas Morning News, June 18, 2013

Parental input is of course extremely important, but before Highland Park "launces Spanish classes at elementary schools," (June 17), administrators and teachers might want to look at the research.
It is true that those who begin a second language as children have a better chance of sounding native than those who start as adults, but years of research on second language acquisition has shown that older acquirers progress more quickly than
younger acquirers in the early stages (older children are faster than younger, adults are faster than children).
Most important, those who begin second languages as adults, given enough opportunity, can reach very high levels of proficiency in second languages.

Stephen Krashen

Beginning of the article:
Park Cities parents want their kids to learn foreign languages at a younger age, and they’d like them to start with Spanish.
Ninety-one percent of Highland Park ISD parents said in a district survey that elementary school is the most appropriate time to begin studying a second language. Three-quarters said they would like their children to learn Spanish, with some preferring Mandarin or French.
With that strong parent support, Highland Park ISD administrators are planning a new elementary foreign language program. The survey was part of a feasibility report by a committee of parents, teachers and administrators who researched and visited elementary programs across the country.
The committee report, presented to the school board this month, was funded by a grant from La Fiesta de Seis Banderas, a Park Cities nonprofit that raises money for charities. School board members expressed support for the elementary language program and said they will consider how to fund it.