How important is it WHAT students read?
By Tyler on April 3rd, 2012
The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and WHYY published a fantastic story this week looking at the wide gap between the reading habits and interests of most students today and the reading expectations laid out in the Common Core State Standards, which most students will be tested on starting in 2014.
The writer took a fascinating approach, looking at an honors student who clearly loves to read. This 12th-grader, Zach Morales, has, as he explains, “a vast collection of books.” The shelves in his room at home are stuffed with titles on topics he’s interested in — from sports to horror stories to Harry Potter. And he’s clearly eager to read to his passions too; his fascination with the topic of computer hacking led to plans for studying computer science in college.
You’d think he’s a model student, right? Well, that’s debatable.
The article spells out how even honors students like Zach are very often falling short of the reading expectations delineated in the Common Core.
[Policymakers] argue that high schools across the country aren’t pushing even their motivated students to read enough nonfiction, digest difficult texts, or do more than regurgitate information.
“In high school, there’s not very much reading at all,” says Elizabeth Moje, an expert on adolescent literacy at the University of Michigan. Worse, students “basically can’t make meaning of what they have read.”
Morales’s teachers cite standardized testing and a losing battle with video games, iPods, and social media as barriers to student reading.
Experts cite another culprit: the dumbing-down of the high school curriculum.
The Common Core clearly sets a high bar for what students can and should be reading in school. And at a time when critical reading skills are more important than ever for success in careers and life, that very well may be good thing.
But the question that I find most interesting is this: What does it mean when a student who admittedly loves to read and takes honors and AP courses and is on the fast-track to college still falls short of the standards most states have agreed upon?
(Flickr photo by mrsbluff)
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