Navigating Choice Reading with High-Stakes Accountability in Mind
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Trumplandia: Unmasking Post-Truth America by NCTE George Orwell Award Winning Author P.L. Thomas - Garn Press - http://wp.me/p3I85u-3NG
As long as we have had formal education in the U.S., we have had a fair amount of public crisis discourse about how students can’t read, and we persist in committing to classroom practices that often contradict our stated goals of creating eager and proficient readers among our students.
One of my arguments about how we fail reading in our schools is that virtually all K-3 students are eager to read, but very few high school students maintain that same joy; what those students have in common are 10+ years in school, where reading goes to die.
English educator and researcher Lou LaBrant began in the 1920s and 1930s producing what we would call today action research showing the essential power of choice in reading to foster both eager and proficient readers.
In the subsequent years, research on reading has confirmed over and over that access to books in the home and choice in reading are the most powerful ways to achieve the kind of literacy we often lament is missing in our young people.
During the most recent accountability era, when high-stakes testing has become king, students are increasingly schooled in scoring well on test-reading, and as a result, they are taught to hate reading. We may well have today a much greater problem in the U.S. with people who hate to read, who don’t read, than who can’t read.
And that fact is the fault of formal schooling.
The source of this dilemma is high-stakes accountability grounded in testing. As a high school English teacher throughout the 1980s and 1990s, I taught in South Carolina, an early adopter of standards and testing, and I also taught in the Advanced Placement program.