Skip to comments.Grades Rise as Reading Skills Drop in H.S. Study (Scary Stuff)
Posted on 02/22/2007 12:03:31 PM PST by devane617
WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 Todays high school students are taking seemingly tougher courses and earning better grades, but their reading skills are not improving, according to the results of a national assessment released here today that cited grade inflation as a possible explanation. .
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
It's pretty sad when you see job postings for degreed chemists and the first required skill listed is "must be able to understand and follow written instructions."
'Course, maybe they're only looking at foreign born applicants.
So...why are we making public education mandatory if they fail teach people how to read, write, and count, let alone the things you need to be a successful citizen like civics, economics, and history? How many more children have to be fed through this wood chipper of failure before public education is either radically changed or dismantled entirely?
Thank you for posting! Just this week my son is going through the process of enrollment for the dual credit program at our local college. He's bright, used to get straight A's, but admittedly just can't function to his full ability with all the crap that goes on in traditional high schools. There's less emphasis on learning and more emphasis on how to feel good and socialize. Kudos to your son, too. I'll have to pass on your success story to mine.
Read a lot. Little reading is required anymore, even in college. Understanding what has been read is even less emphasized. Reading should be approached as an athletic kind of training. Power reading should be intense, every day, several hours a day. Writing should be added to the power reading sessions once the pupil is fourteen. Reading unfamiliar foreign languages quickly exposes deficiencies in understanding, as does reading poetry.
Why is public education mandatory?
The sad truth is that education is NOT mandatory. Only attendance is mandatory. This is why parents aren't able to sue the school system for their failures. The total responsibility for education is in the parents hands. Which I do agree with, but it also gives the education bureaucracy total freedom to not to teach! And get money only based on attendance. What a racket.
Hey, nice to see you again :-).
I was curious about the relevence of grade levels to the real world, so I took an issue that's been bothering me for a while and analyzed it.
I was wondering if the person on the street would be able to comprehend Microsoft's instructions for determing what level of Windows Vista you should buy. I had a feeling the average person could probably not properly read and digest the document below:
So, how easy is it to comprehend this information? Lexile gives it a score of 1370. This appears to be a "some college" (above high school graduate) level. See
The SMOG Readability Index gives me a score of 12.49.
So it looks like consistency is pretty high since that's also a post high school reading level.
But it gets worse. What if you want to understand the features of Windows Vista Home Basic and click on the link for it? A snappy 14.05 ("Some College, New York Times" again).
Well, in theory, virtually everyone is going to buy a home computer at some point, and so you would wonder why these materials are created for such a high reading level.
Unfortunately, when you buy a Windows product, you usually wind up having some kind of problem. Like how to get your pictures from your digital camera to your computer. Microsoft's writeup of this:
gets a snappy 12.49. So you have to graduate from high school to learn how to move your photos.
How about if you get stuck in "Reduced Functionality Mode"?
13.95. You need some college to read it.
Well, why don't we solve this problem by all switching to Macs? This actually does work. Apple's site for MacOS X Leopard Sneak peek has a snappy 9.9 readability index, or "some high school."
So I would be saying we should all move to Macs, except I'm afraid it takes more than a junior high job to be able to afford one. I know, Macs are comparably priced for PCs when you get the same stuff with them, but people who can't read Microsoft marketing literature are not likely to care; they need entry-level computers.
However, it has to be said that there is a kicker. I, with my obviously way above high school reading skills, could not figure out which version of Windows Vista I should get from the information given on that first page. The smoky generalities on the web site that really tell you next to nothing about the differences.
I wonder what education level you need to get to in order to realize this. Maybe the early high school student who tries to read that page and says nothing but "It's all gobbledygook!" is making a better decision than the post-grad who can understand it and takes it all seriously.
But in the end, it seems like if you want to make sure your computer doesn't get stuck in "Reduced Functionality Mode" (in which the web browser generously lets you navigate to Microsoft's web site and buy a new Windows Vista license), you'd better learn more than most people seem to be learning nowadays.
Hear, hear. I did not overly trouble myself with English grammar until I began the study of German. It was the contrasts and similarities between the two languages that finally engaged my interest in the subject.
Of course, the downside is that it made me an insufferable Grammar Pecksniff.
Heh. I imagine many folks leave degree programs wondering what language it is they really speak after spending so many hours in lectures and labs with grad students who can barely speak a word of English.
BTW, your post is a 10.51.
You know, I almost posted that as a follow-up to my post because I knew someone would check :-).
I do think it makes the point that while descriptive writing, such as the Vista marketing material, appears to be increasing in complexity, our ability to read it is falling.
That's certainly something I would be worried about.
Exactly, I bet their teachers test scores would be as low or lower.
I mentioned poetry also because I found some prose articles by Coleridge and Wordsworth that were every bit as elegant as their poetry, and perfectly clear. If we could write prose as clearly as Milton, Coleridge and Wordsworth, and they make it look easy, we could ask no more.
"Grammar Pecksniff" should not be capitalized.
Without a doubt, David, you ask some good questions. So, let me share some experiences with you. In the mid-80s, after I graduated from college, I went to work as a technical writer. In those days, we wrote to the level of an average 10th grader.
Things have changed quite a bit. Today, technical writers who understand the material they are writing (rare) and care about their users (rarer), write to the level of an average 5th grader.
Between 2003 and 2004, I worked in Florida as a substitute teacher and had to "teach" reading classes. What a joke!! The students were required to sit at their desks with an open book in front of them. No one reads aloud. They can't be forced or asked to read aloud. So, let me pose a rhetorical question back to you - if the teacher can't ask the students to read aloud, how do they know if the student has a reading problem?
But, it gets worse. In 1998, the Dallas Business Journal published a study undicating that 40% of the population were illiterate. Of the remainder, another 40% are believed to be functionally illiterate. In the interim, what indications are there to suggest that reading levels have improved??
There are none. What passes for a high school graduate today barely possesses the knowledge or skills to read a 3rd grade primer from when I was in school. They don't care about getting educations because they are all convinced they will make it big in the NBA, NFL, MLB, or on American Idol. Even those who are so bad they don't make it through the auditions are convinced that Simon doesn't know what he is talking about. Simon is very blunt, but he knows the music business better than these wannabees will ever begin to understand.
And none of them have the ability to figure out that they are going to have a lifelong career that comes with the question, "You want fries with that?"
undicating = indicating
Could we make much progress by saying that even making it in the aforementioned dream careers is greatly enhanced by the ability to read and write?
It would be nice to understand a playbook, or know how to read music, right? How about writing original songs?
If the kids wanted to read silently instead of aloud, couldn't you quiz them on the material when they were done with it and figure out their reading ability through that? Without a quiz and without reading aloud certainly there seems like there would be little motivation to read or try to understand what was read.
I'm sure that, realistically, the people who succeeded on American Idol had musical training and practiced like crazy to get to their big break, no?
I don't know if you can have a lifelong career asking about fries. McDonalds, like virtually every service employer I know of, prefers to hire younger people because they look cute and perky.
Here in Pittsburgh there is a shortage of young people, and this brings the old out of the woodwork. Wal*Mart loves to hire them. Sometimes this produces good results, and I suppose we should commend the company or its humanitarian attitude. I know of at least one Wal*Mart employee who grunts instead of talks and doesn't seem to quite understand how to use the register. Sometimes humanitarianism goes a shade too far.
So I guess Wal*Mart can be a lifetime career, albiet one that's not terribly satisfying. And I don't know if we have enough Wal*Marts or Giant Eagles(*) to employ all the undereducated people pouring out of our schools.
Even Giant Eagle recently introduced Giant Eagle Market District(tm), which requires that clerks actually have some knowledge of what they are selling. The idea is that if someone asks where the hoisin sauce is, the typical employee will not give a blank stare. Only about half of employees know, but this is a significant improvement over "normal" Giant Eagles.
I gather you are in agreement that no sane person is likely to comprehend the Microsoft documents?
Windows Vista Basic is for the cheap slob who can't afford a decent (> $1,000) computer.
Windows Vista Home Premium is for you if you want your computer to look nice but don't need to connect to a fancy corporate network. Most people will like this version best.
Windows Vista Business is for the poor saps who have to interact with a Windows Network Server.
Windows Vista Ultimate is for you if you want to both process photos you took on your vacation and interact with a Windows Network Server. It's also for anyone who really, really loves Microsoft and wants to play with some extra toys they throw in. At $399, you'd better really, really love Microsoft to buy this product.
Ouch. 9.87, or around 7th to 8th grade.
I don't know if there's anyone else watching but us, but this truly is educational. The average guy on the street could not understand the above? I thought I'd simplified it about as much as it could be simplified.
Is it possible that the concept of Windows Vista Editions is simply impossible for people at today's level of education to understand without someone personally tutoring them?
Okay, try again.
Windows Vista Basic: Avoid, it looks boring.
Windows Vista Home Premium: Get this, it looks nicer.
Windows Vista Business: Get this if you have a Windows server and need to hook up with it.
Windows Vista Ultimate: Get this if you want to both hook up with a Windows server and do home-type stuff.
That got me to 6.87. I guess that's almost okay, but it sounds really awful to anyone above that level, at least to my ears. Also, it may be that the lumpy terminology Microsoft uses to name their editions hurts readability in and of itself, before I even write a word.
(I have of course spared you the differences between regular, update and OEM editions, not to mention the Starter edition for third world countries and the Enterprise edition for big companies. It is not outside the realm of imagination that Microsoft believes confusing their customers is a virtue. I think they're being dreadfully short-sighted about this, but then again, I'm a Mac user, and we're notorious for thinking the doom of Microsoft is just around the corner. I would argue that such doom has been richly deserved, but alas, they'll probably survive.)
(*) Pittsburgh's crummy local grocery. Any Publix is universes better.
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