Sunday, August 10, 2014

High scores on reading tests, but little interest in reading

Sent to the Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2014

Walt Gardner  (letters, August 9) pointed out that high test scores may be accompanied by negative attitudes.  

Gardner may be right. Students in some countries with spectacular reading scores are not enthusiastic readers. Hong Kong ranked first in the 2011 PIRLS reading test, given to ten year olds in over 40 countries. But only 21% of Hong Kong children said they liked to read, less than the international average of 28%. 

The high test scores might be a result of massive amounts of required reading, combined with instructon on how to game the tests (test preparation).  In contrast, reading for interest and pleasure not only produces high test scores but also results in a love of reading and continuing growth in literacy. Required reading and test prep does not have this effect: Only 14% of Hong Kong parents said they liked to read; the international average is 30%.

Elizabeth Ka Yee Loh
University of Hong Kong

Stephen Krashen
University of Southern California

Gardner letter:

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