Books are Enough

The Power of Free, Self-Selected Reading

The Fake Crisis Update – PIRLS 2011

The results of the 2011 PIRLS test are out and we really need to remove sharp objects from the reach of Jeb Bush, Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, and all of the top brass at Exxon Mobile, CATO and Fordham – well the entire media too.

The Progress In International Reading Literacy Study report can be viewed in full here but I wanted to summarize some findings. Many of these findings confirm what we know and what so called “reformers” forget. I am offering a cursory look but encourage you to dig in to the report. A lot of what the public is being told is simply false. Attacks on public schools – led by Jeb Bush are political, misleading and serve a privatization agenda.

This test also reminds me that we already have ways to measure students against the world and the nation ( PISA,NAEP, PIRLS, TIMMS). There is no reason to have Common Core or its massive testing. 

A bigger question is why are we so obsessed with these tests anyway? Do they mean anything? Do they matter? No matter what the results are, the nattering nabobs always find fault.

The US scored 6th out of 45 participants. It looks like if we adjust for poverty we would be at the top.  I have not done the math yet but  I hope someone will.  UPDATE: US IS #1 in the WORLD for students in schools with less than 25% in poverty (Page 142)

The test also continues to confirm the importance of access to books, time to read and the prime role of socioeconomic status in test results. Other national and international tests have confirmed this prime link for a long time.

Students with access to book did a lot better than those with limited access.  Results also show the achievement gap starts at home and that those who have been scapegoating schools like our own Secretary of Education(sic) and his friends Jeb Bush and Michelle Rhee are flat-out wrong. This trio of hucksters continue to ignore evidence- mounting and massive.

I took these findings right from the PIRLS report.   I cite pages to help you locate charts.

1. Students with parents involving them in literacy activities at home- before entering school (like reading to them) scored much higher as did those who had more books in the home. The drop in scores is dramatic for those who lack access to books (Page 11).

2. Students who liked to read did better. Stunner! (Page 10, Page 20) The power of self selected reading is on display here. Will Common Core help kids like reading? Negative.

3. High-performing countries demonstrated  strength in interpreting, integrating, and evaluating comprehension skills (Page 9).  So why do we need Common Core?

4. Lack of nutrition created an achievement gap (Page 22).

5. Internationally, fourth grade students attending schools with well resourced libraries had higher achievement than those with few books or no school library (Pages 154-156)

There is so much to look at in this report but I wanted to give a quick first impression. I know others (Dr. Krashen this means you!) will do detailed analysis.

Why am I doing the work of the USDOE in posting this information? They continue to ignore evidence and that is a crime. There has to be a crisis- right? If not, what would Jeb Bush prattle on about all day?


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