Sunday, December 30, 2012

Doing Better with Average Students

The IndyStar has an excellent op-ed piece, by Tim Swarens here, pleading for more resources and opportunities for average students.  He notes all of the money going to low-achieving students and students in accelerated classes--which he supports--but cites statistics showing that average students are not doing well when it comes to finishing college.  My response:

My experience, gained through 35 years of teaching high school English, is that the difference between average students and high-achieving students is usually reading skills.  Most average students are not avid readers.  They read only what they have to, if that.  If we can make the development of a love of reading a priority throughout the grade levels, then we can move many more “average” students into the advanced category.

This isn’t hard to do.  Open up Language Arts and English curricula so that students do a large amount of self-selected reading.  Fund school libraries and try to make sure every student has an e-reader, and easy, inexpensive access to many e-books.  Make time in the school day for quiet, independent reading. 

Avid readers read better, write better, concentrate better, and have wider frames of reference that make all learning easier.  The payoff is immense.

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