The NY Times has an article here about the Uncommon Charter Schools, a string of around thirty schools in the Northeast. The interesting aspect is that they are very successful in raising math scores, but not reading scores. From the article:
“Is it a vocabulary issue? A background knowledge issue? A sentence length issue? How dense is the text?” Mr. Peiser said, rattling off a string of potential reading roadblocks. “It’s a three-dimensional problem that you have to attack. And it just takes time.”
How absurd. The problem is that no one is taking the time to turn these kids into avid readers. Another quote:
“During a fifth-grade reading class, students read aloud from “Bridge to Terabithia,” by Katherine Paterson. Naomi Frame, the teacher, guided the students in a close reading of a few paragraphs. But when she asked them to select which of two descriptions fit Terabithia, the magic kingdom created by the two main characters, the class stumbled to draw inferences from the text.”
Professor Stephen Krashen, in his book The Power of Reading, cites research showing the teaching skills is just testing skills; kids acquire skills through wide reading. It’s hard to image a way more guaranteed to turn kids off to books than making them do the kind of exercises described above.