Thursday, March 7, 2013

Improving Schools: Usual Suspects

The Huffington Post has a column here by the head of the Beaver County Day School.  He describes what changes he thinks schools need to make to prepare students for our increasingly  complex world.  The suggested changed are no surprise:  develop critical thinking skills, and emphasize science, technology, engineering, and math.  He also thinks schools should make more use of people that are outside the education field.

All of this is well and good, but you are missing the most important thing:  verbal scores on the SAT have actually declined over the last forty years, and scores on the NAEP have remained stagnant over the last twenty.   

Our kids are still not reading very well.  And until we increase their  literacy skills, trying to make sure they have 21st century work skills is doomed to failure.  Literacy underpins all other learning.

How do we increase reading skills?  It’s very simple.  We have to get kids reading more.  We have to fill schools with books they can easily love.  We have to make the development of a love and habit of reading the major goal of any curriculum change.  Most junior high and high school language arts programs now actually drive kids away from loving books.

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