Thursday, August 27, 2015

The value of bilingual education

Sent to the Jakarta Post, August 27, 2015

    ACDP Indonesia is correct to encourage the use of the native language in schools ("Bilingual education key to student success," August 27).
    Mastery of the national language is of course essential for school success everywhere. Research has consistently shown that use of the first language results in better mastery of the national language than so-called "immersion" programs in which only the national language is used.
    This has been confirmed in studies done in Norway, the Netherlands, China, Sweden, Australia, Mexico and the United States, and with a wide variety of first languages.
    When we give a child a good education in the child's first language,  we give the child background knowledge, which makes instruction in the national language more comprehensible, leading to more rapid acquisition of the national language.
    Also, it is much easier to learn to read in a language the child understands, and once the child can read in the home language, reading ability transfers rapidly to the national language.
    Those dedicated to universal and rapid mastery of Indonesian should also be dedicated to the use of the native language in school.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Research reviews:
Crawford, J. and Krashen, S. 2015. English Learners in American Classrooms: 101 Questions, 101 Answers. Portland: DiversityLearningK12
McField, G. and McField, D. 2014. The consistent outcome of bilingual education programs: A meta-analysis of meta-analyses. In Grace McField (Ed.) 2014. The Miseducation of English Learners. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing. pp. 267-299.
Krashen, S. 1998. Do other countries do bilingual education? CABE Newsletter 21(5): 14,15-36. Available at
Krashen, S. 1999. Condemned without a Trial: Bogus Arguments Against Bilingual Education. Heinemann.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Groundhog Day: Parents Again Rate Local Schools Higher than Schools of the Nation

Sent to the Washington Post, August 25, 2015

As is the case every year, the PDK/Gallup poll found that people rate their local schools much more positively than they do schools in the US in general ("U.S. schools are too focused on standardized tests, poll says," August 23).

The differences, as usual, were striking: Seventy percent of parents said they would give the public schools their oldest child attended a grade or A or B, but only 19% would give public schools in the nation an A or B.

An obvious explanation: Parents have direct information about the school their children attend, but their opinion of American education comes from the media. For decades, the media has been presenting a biased view.

In reality, American schools are doing quite well: When researchers control for the effects of poverty, American students' international test scores rank near the top of the world.
I wonder how many of those interviewed know this?

Stephen Krashen

Questions about parents views: Q19, Q 20, PDK Poll, 2015
Original article:

My kids say "Spanish is easy."

CHRIS STOLZ, Secondary School Spanish Teacher, BC, Canada:
Now that I teach only with comprehensible input, my kids say "Spanish is easy" and it is obvious to me that they are really acquiring the language. When I taught with a grammar and output focus they would say "Spanish is hard" and could hardly say or understand anything, even after an entire year.

Drop the Exit Exam

Submitted to the San Francisco Chronicle, August 25, 2015

It is a good idea to delay the California high school exit exam ("Exit Exam reprieve gets California lawmakers’ OK," August 24). It is a better idea to drop it altogether. 

Study after study confirms that state exit exams serve no useful purpose: they do not provide short-benefits, such as increased learning, or long-term benefits, such as increased college attendance or higher employment.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California

Review of research: Holme, J., Richards, M., Jimerson, J., and Cohen, R. 2010. Assessing the effects of high school exit examinations. Review of Educational Research 80 (4): 476-526.
Original article:

Monday, August 24, 2015

High school leaving exams: What does the research say?

Sent to the Sacramento Bee, August 24
I wonder if lawmakers discussing the future of the high school exit exam are aware of research on these exams. A review done by researchers at the University of Texas in 2010 concluded that high school exit exams do not lead to more college attendance, do not result in increased student learning and do not result in higher employment.
In fact, researchers have yet to discover any benefits of having a high school exit exam.
Stephen Krashen
Re:"Jerry Brown to sign bill to suspend California high school exit exam for 2015," August, 24.
Source: Holme, J., Richards, M., Jimerson, J., and Cohen, R. 2010. Assessing the effects of high school exit examinations. Review of Educational Research 80 (4): 476-526.
Hat-tip: Dee Dee Kay

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Forming valid conclusions about the common core

Sent to US, August 22, 2015

"Just because it's Common Core aligned doesn't make it boring," (August 20), represents only the opinion of one former teacher and only one teacher with experience teaching with the common core standards. To form a valid conclusion, we need the opinions of a large number of teachers now teaching under the common core, in a variety of situations.
To make matters worse, Ms. Partelow dismisses anti-common core sentiment as the result of "PR." This is ironic, as common core supporters are often paid by corporations profiting from the common core, corporations that are very adept at placing pro-common core propaganda in the media. In contrast, critics are largely teachers and parents who make no profit by expressing their views, have no special funding or influence with the media, and who often expose themselves to considerable risk.
Ms. Partelow also suggests that common core critics think teachers should "do whatever they want all day with no guidelines or restrictions." Nonsense. Opposition to the common core standards is not opposition to all standards.

original outrageous article at:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Should We Teach Strategies?

Stephen Krashen
E-FLT (Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching), Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 35–39


I suggest that effective strategies are those that make input more comprehensible and that help us use writing to solve problems. It may be useful to teach some strategies directly, but some strategies may be innate, and others could develop as a result of comprehensible input. Those that can be taught help us recover from inefficient strategies we learned in school.

1. Introduction

I assume in this discussion the correctness of the hypothesis that we acquire language subconsciously by understanding aural and written messages, that is, from "comprehensible input," and that subconsciously acquired language is far more important in language comprehension and production than consciously learned language (e.g. Krashen, 2003).
Discussion of strategies in the second language acquisition field has largely been independent of the acquisition-learning distinction. In fact, many of the strategies proposed and investigated in second language education relate to conscious learning (e.g. ways of reviewing for a grammar test or memorizing vocabulary). Much more useful are strategies that help language acquisition. I will present some samples here, and also discuss strategies often assumed to help language acquisition (writing competence), but in reality serve other purposes.

2. Strategies that Help Language Acquisition

Strategies that help language acquisition are those that help acquirers obtain comprehensible input and those that make input more comprehensible. Here are just a few examples.

2.1 Narrow reading

Among those that help acquirers obtain more comprehensible input via reading is the strategy of narrow reading, the practice of reading texts by one author or about a single topic of interest, which helps ensure comprehension and natural repetition of vocabulary and grammar (Krashen, 2004).  This strategy contrasts with the usual classroom approach of trying to do a “survey,” selecting texts of different genres, often written in different eras. Rather, the narrow reading strategy encourages early specialization, gradually broadening reading as interests and knowledge of what is available develop.
         Evidence supporting the narrow reading idea includes Lamme (1976), who found that good readers in English as a first language tended to read more books by a single author and books from a series. More recently, Cho and Krashen (1994, 1995) reported considerable enthusiasm for reading and substantial vocabulary development among adult second language acquirers who read books in the Sweet Valley series; readers rapidly moved from Sweet Valley Kids (second grade level) to Sweet Valley Twins (fourth grade level) to Sweet Valley High (fifth and sixth grade level). Several readers in these studies had never read a book in English for pleasure before, but became fanatic Sweet Valley fans.

2.2 Narrow listening

         The analogue to narrow listening in aural language is narrow listening. In one form of narrow listening (Krashen, 1996), the acquirer collects brief recordings of proficient speakers discussing a topic selected by the acquirer. The acquirer then listens to the recordings as many times as desired, at leisure. Repeated listening, interest in the topic, and familiar context help make the input comprehensible. Topics are gradually changed, which allows the acquirer to expand his or her competence comfortably.
         Foreign language students in the US who do narrow listening in class report greater comprehensibility with each hearing of short recordings on topics they were interested in and said that they found it helpful and better than commercially prepared recordings  (Rodrigo and Krashen, 1996; Dupuy, 1999).
As a general strategy, narrow listening, like narrow reading, means seeking out aural input (radio, TV, recordings, audiobooks, interaction) on topics the acquirer is interested in. Thanks to the internet, this is increasingly possible (e.g.

2.3 Obtain background information

An example of a strategy that helps make input more comprehensible is to obtain background information in the first or second language. A wealth of research confirms that background information in the form of pictures, discussion, and easier reading helps make texts comprehensible. The validity of this strategy is confirmed by studies showing that texts on topics familiar to readers are generally more comprehensible than texts on unfamiliar topics (e.g. Johnson, 1981, 1982; Ribovich, 1979; but see Scott, 2004 for an interesting exception).
It has been hypothesized that one of the reasons for the success of bilingual programs is that they provide subject matter information in the first language, which makes subsequent instruction and reading in the second language more comprehensible (Krashen, 1999), leading to better acquisition of the second language.
Note that narrow reading and listening incorporate the background knowledge strategy: As we read in one area, or focus on the works of a single author, we build up background knowledge that makes subsequent reading more comprehensible. This helps explain why series books are so popular, and effective in developing literacy (Cho and Krashen, 1994, 1995; Lamme, 1976).
Closely related to narrow reading is selective reading. Selective reading means limiting one’s academic or professional reading to what one needs at the moment to solve the problem one is working on now. Bazerman (1985) reported that top physicists typically only read and studied those technical papers that related to their current projects, filing the others for later reading, when they became relevant. They made no attempt to “keep up with the literature.”

2.4 Seek COMPELLING input

I have hypothesized that the most effective input for language acquisition and literacy development is not simply comprehensible and interesting: It is COMPELLING (Krashen, 2011). Compelling input is so interesting that there is no focus on form: in fact, you cease to be aware of what language the input is in.  You are in a state of flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1992): your sense of self and time diminishes, only the book, movie, or conversation matters.
If this "compelling input" hypothesis is correct, it implies that second language acquirers should not listen to or read things just because they are in a language they want to acquire. Rather, they should try to listen to and read things that are genuinely interesting or compelling. Similarly, making friends with somebody just because they speak a language you are interested in generally doesn't work.
There is a simple test to determine if input in a second language is genuinely compelling: If you find yourself noticing interesting expressions, ways of saying things that you previously weren't familiar with, and making mental or written notes to try to remember them, the input is not compelling enough.

3. Writing Strategies

The best known writing strategies comprise the composing process, strategies expert writers use. These are not language acquisition strategies: They will not help you acquire new syntax, vocabulary, or command of genres. Acquisition of language comes through input/reading, not through output/writing. These strategies will, however, help you use writing to solve problems and come up with new insights and thereby contribute to your cognitive development (i.e. make you smarter). These strategies also help writers deal with writer's blocks.
Evidence for each of the following strategies is well-established in the research literature (reviewed in Krashen and Lee, 2002; Krashen, 2003).

1.     Planning: Good writers have a plan before they write, but it is flexible; they are willing to change the plan as they write and discover new ideas.
2.     Revision: Good writers are willing to revise. They understand that as they move from draft to draft they come up with new ideas.
3.     Good writers delay editing, concerning themselves with formal correctness only after they are satisfied with the ideas they put on the page.
4.     Reading: Good writers stop frequently and reread what they have written.
5.     Regular Daily Writing:  Productive writers write a modest amount each day, rather than waiting until they have large blocks of time available.
6.     Incubation: Good writers understand the importance of short breaks that encourage the emergence of new ideas and solutions to problems.  

 It should also be pointed out that some of these strategies can be developed or taught in the first language, with immediate or easy transfer (Krashen and Lee, 2004). ***

4. Strategy Teaching as Re-programming

I have argued that the strategies to be emphasized are those related to language acquisition, not learning, as well as those that help us use writing to solve problems.  My hunch is that even strategies that are teachable and useful are simply a means of re-programming, of helping us recover from the lessons they have learned in school.
Language acquirers need to know that they can read narrowly, because they are used to courses that present them with surveys, a little of this and a little of that, which nearly guarantees a constant flow of incomprehensible and often uninteresting input. They also need to know that they can read selectively. They don't have to read everything, for fear it might be on the test.
 Language acquirers need to know that they are free to get background knowledge in the first language.  Many of us have been taught that "total immersion" in the second language is necessary and that any use of the first language will get in the way.
We need to encourage revision and delaying editing, because, thanks to timed writing and sit-down examinations, students often have the impression that they need to get everything right on the first draft.
Writers need to know that they are free to take a moment of rest for "incubation" when they face a writer's block. Contrary to the impression they got in school, with the emphasis on "time on task" and constant hard work, they don't need to look "busy" at every moment.

5. What I Do.

The strategies presented here have been important to me: I also needed and continue to need "reprogramming": The influence of my schooling is so strong that I need constant reminding. These strategies are easy to learn, but the strong influence of our schooling makes them hard to remember and apply.
I try to use the selective reading strategy. While writing this paper, I reviewed several research papers on strategies. Even though new books and papers of interest in other areas appeared while I was writing this paper, I did not read them, postponing reading them until I was working on a project in those areas. I admit, however, that I feel guilty doing this. Deep inside is a voice that urges me to read every article in every new journal that arrives.
In lighter reading in other languages, I try to follow the narrow reading principle, generally reading science fiction, my favorite fiction genre. I have read, for example, nearly the complete works of Bernard Werber, a French science fiction author. To make matters even better, Werber has written several series, on the same theme and with the same or related characters, one on ants (!!), and one on life after death. I hope there will soon be audiobooks.  The series were especially compelling, so much so that when I was in my "Werber" period I temporarily abandoned my usual practice of alternating novels in French and German.  For a full year, it was only French.
The strategy of getting background information has been very useful: Before reading a series of papers in another language (or hearing a speaker), I try to first read what is available in English, and then what is published in the second language.
Composing process strategies have been very important to me. Now, when I have to revise, I'm happy, not upset that the paper won't be finished soon, because I now understand that revision means that I'm learning something new. I have gradually understood Elbow's insight that in writing, "Meaning is not what you start with, but what you end up with" (Elbow, 1973, p. 15).
         I've also learned to take short breaks when stuck, to allow for incubation. Following Poincaré's advice (Poincaré, 1924), I don't try to do intellectual work during short breaks; rather, I do something relatively mindless, like cleaning up. 
         I've also learned the importance of regular daily writing. I can identify with Dickens: If Charles Dickens missed a day of writing, "he needed a week of hard slog to get back into the flow" (Hughes, in Plimpton, 1999, p. 247).  Daily regular writing, even if brief, prevents this.

6. Post-script: Strategies that Never Need to be Taught

Some strategies develop naturally or are innate, and the inability of students to use them is the fault of the input they are faced with, not ignorance of the strategy. This applies to prediction, which some people maintain must be taught ("What to do think is going to happen next?")
Smith (1983) notes that “everyone predicts –including children - all the time" (p. 23), and argues that we need to predict in order to get through the day, in order to deal with the complexity of the world. Most of our predictions are correct, which is why we are so rarely surprised. When students are unable to predict "what is going to happen next," it is because the text is confusing or nonsensical, not because they lack instruction in prediction strategies.


Bazerman, C. (1985). Physicists reading physics: Schema-laden purposes and purpose-laden schema. Written Communication, 2, 3-43.
Cho, K.S. & Krashen, S. (1994). Acquisition of vocabulary from the Sweet Valley Kids series. Journal of Reading 37, 662-667.
Cho, K.S. and Krashen, S. (1995). From Sweet Valley Kids to Harlequins in one year. California English 1(1), 18-19.
Csikszentmihalyi , M. (1992). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper Perennial
Johnson, P. (1981). Effects on reading comprehension of reading complexity and cultural background. TESOL Quarterly 15, 169-181.
Johnson, P. (1982). Effects on reading comprehension of building background knowledge. TESOL Quarterly 16, 503-16.
Elbow, P. (1973) Writing Without Teachers. New York: Oxford Press.
Krashen, S. (1999). Condemned Without a Trial: Bogus Arguments Against Bilingual Education. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Krashen, S. (2003). Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use: The Taipei Lectures. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, Taipei: Crane Publishing Company.
Krashen, S. (2004). The case for narrow reading. Language Magazine 3(5), 17-19.
Krashen, S. (2011). The compelling (not just interesting) input hypothesis. The English Connection (KOTESOL). 15, 3: 1
Krashen, S. & Lee, S.Y. (2004). Competence in foreign language writing: Progress and lacunae. Literacy Across Cultures 12(2),10-14. Available at,
Lamme, L. (1976). Are reading habits and abilities related? Reading Teacher, 30, 21-27.
Plimpton, G. (1999). The Writer's Chapbook. New York: Modern Library.
Poincare, H. (1924). Mathematical creation. Excerpts reprinted in Creativity, P.E. Vernon (Ed.). Middlesex, England: Penguin. pp. 77-88, 1970.
Ribovich, J. (1979). The effects of informational background on various reading-related behaviors in adults. Reading World, March: 240-46.
Scott, N. (2004). Familiarity breeds contempt: Reading texts from learners’ own cultures does not guarantee recall. TESOL Quarterly 38(2), 345-352.
Smith, F. (1983). Essays into Literacy. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Weingarten on the CC$$: teachers just need more time and "training"

AFT President Randi Weingarten does not criticize the Common Core; she says we just need to give teachers more time and "training" to make it work. She attacks our "test-and-punish" fixation, but that is exactly what the Common Core is. Her solution appears to be more testing: the problem with evaluating teachers by test scores is that the measures are faulty and narrow.  In other words, we need more and better tests!

Her letter is in the New York Times. August 16, 2015.
To the Editor: Re “Across Country, a Scramble Is On to Find Teachers” (front page, Aug. 10):
We applaud you for shining a light on the economic forces that helped create the national teacher shortage: low pay, higher student loan debt and recession-linked layoffs. But if you ask teachers why young people are shunning the profession, and why so many abandon it after just a few years, you’ll get an earful.
We have always asked teachers to be a combination of Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, Mom and Dad. Now, we judge them by a faulty, narrow measure — one standardized test in English and one in math — and then blame them for not being saviors. Teachers are used to the pressure cooker but are stressed out because they aren’t getting the support, resources, time and respect they need to do their jobs.
Educators have been hit with a barrage of new mandates but given little or no support or training to make them work. Think of the debacle in New York: testing kids on content covered under the new Common Core standards before giving teachers the time, curriculum or latitude to actually teach that content, and then using those tests as the basis of teachers’ evaluations.
Thanks to our test-and-punish fixation, high-stakes test prep has eclipsed teaching and learning and is sucking the creativity and joy out of classrooms. New and seasoned teachers want careers that allow them to make a difference, grow and effect change. Sadly, for too many, the profession today appears not to offer these essentials.
Nationally, we must get our priorities straight and do what’s necessary to recruit, support and retain great teachers — in good economic times and bad.
President, American Federation of Teachers

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Just take a sample

Sent to the New York Times, August 15, 2015

The Times argues that "Opting Out of Standardized Tests Isn’t the Answer," (August 15) because we need accurate information about the achievement gap among various subgroups of students.

But we don't need to test every student every year to do this.

We can get the same information from low-pressure testing of small samples of students every few years, each student taking only a part of the test, and extrapolating the results to larger groups.  This will save taxpayers' money, reduce testing anxiety, and give teachers more time to teach.

When you go to the doctor, they don't take all your blood. They only take a sample.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

original article:

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Why the teacher shortages?

Sent to the New York Times, August 9, 2015

Why the teacher shortages? ("Teacher Shortages Spur a Nationwide Hiring Scramble (Credentials Optional), Aug 9").
Among the reasons: the constant disrespecting of teachers in the media, despite evidence that American educators have been very successful (when we control for poverty, our students rank near the top of the world on international tests), elimination of seniority pay and elimination of due process in several states, massive high-pressure testing that makes teaching very difficult, and evaluation of teachers based on invalid measures.
I am surprised that the shortage is not greater than it is.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Saturday, August 8, 2015

More research supports school libraries while support for school libraries declines

As more and more studies on the effectiveness of school libraries are published, support for school libraries appears to be declining.
Keith Curry Lance's research in the US consistently shows that school library quality is positively related to literacy development. The results of a study done by Syying Lee, Jeff McQuillan and myself, which appeared in the Journal of Language and Literacy Education in 2012 suggest that access to a good school library can offset, to a large extent, the negative impact of poverty on reading achievement.
Despite this research, support for school libraries has been dwindling, as reported by Michael Kelly in the Library Journal in 2011 and we now learn that a similar decline is taking place in Turkey ("2,899 school libraries across Turkey closed in 2014, report shows," August 6, Sunday's Zaman).
We complain that the low levels of literacy in young people, but we destroy the most obvious source of reading material. 

Posted at:

Webinar Presentation 4

Predictors of NAEP grade 4, 2007, 51 states
r2 = .63
Access = bks/student in school libraries, circulation in public libraries

Predictors of PIRLS:
Predictors of the reading test: PIRLS 2006
independent reading in school
library: 500 books
r2 = .63 
Krashen, S., Lee, S.Y. and McQuillan, J. 2012. Is the library important? Multivariate studies at the national and international level. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 8(1): 26-36.

Replication:  PIRLS 2011
library: 5000 bks
class libr
parent read
early lit
r2 = .62

Note: Parental reading and classroom library correlated with PIRLS reading scores, but the effect disappeared in the multiple regression.
Note: Poverty and access are the main predictors of reading achievement in all studies.

Some Disturbing Data: In general, countries with high SES have high PIRLS reading scores and people (children and adults) say they like to read:  "baseline" data –
parent likes
child likes
Hong Kong
.88 (.01)
19 (4.4)
22.3 (.96)
558 (13.7)
.9 (.02)
43.7 (5.2)
33 (2.5)
538.4 (9.7)
But in some countries with high SES and high PIRLS scores, there is much less enthusiasm for reading (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy, Singapore).
"Test-prep" countries? PIRLS scores = true compentence?
Loh, E.K.Y. and Krashen, S. 2015. Patterns in PIRLS performance: The importance of liking to read, SES, and the effect of test prep. Asian Journal of Education and e-Learning 3(1).

An allergy to SES and access to books? Fryer & Levitt (2004): SES accounts for 2/3 of gap, books in home accounts for the rest.
Fryer, R. & Levitt, S. 2004. Understanding the black-white test score gap in the first two years of school. The Review of Economics and Statistics 86(2): 447-464.

Meanwhile library funding is being cut in the US. School library cuts greater in high poverty areas (American Library Association, 2010. The State of America's Libraries; Kelley, M. 2010, Budget survey: Bottoming out? Library Journal, 2010.).

What about e-books? Major increase in the US: 28% of adults!
Who owns e-book readers?
under 30,000
30 to 49,999
50 to 74,999
Pew report. Adults age 18 or over.

The cost of e-books:  average best-seller - $10 to $15
To provide real access, e-books and e-book readers need to be A LOT cheaper.


THE COMMON CORE = standards plus tests [NOTE: standards and tests go together. Tests are the spawn of the standards (Alfie Kohn and Jeb Bush!)]
Rationale for Common Core standards & TESTS: American schools are “broken”
Evidence = Performance on international test scores. We are "taking a shellacking."  - an odd view of economics
American raw scores – not spectacular but not horrible, tied for 10th/60 on PISA 2009 reading (15 yr olds)

When researchers control for poverty, American scores are excellent:
Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013a, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012., plus many other studies.
Carnoy and Rothstein (2013b) Response from Martin Carnoy and Richard Rothstein to OECD/PISA Comments (by Andreas Schleicher, OECD Deputy Director for Education and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the OECD’s Secretary-General, January 14, 2013) regarding our report “What do international tests really show about American student performance?” (Economic Policy Institute 2013)
If US had same social class distribution as top three (Canada, Finland, Korea), US score would be 518. Social class accounts for about a third of the math gap, one-half of reading gap.
Rank improves from 14 to 6 in reading, from 25 to 13 in math (Carnoy and Rothstein, 2013b)
Does not consider high concentration of high-poverty students in many schools.  (Carnoy and Rothstein, 2013a). Berliner: Not just percent high-poverty but their concentration in schools.  High levels of poverty concentrated = less access to books, other services provided by better-funded schools and neighborhoods.
Percent US children in poverty: now 25%. When only 23%, it was 2nd highest of all industrialized countries.  Finland = 5.3%. The problem is poverty. NOT: teaching, schools of ed, unions, parents, lack of national standards/tests

POVERTY: Improve schools to cure poverty (US Dept of Education), or cure poverty to improve schools?  "We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished.”   (Martin Luther King, 1967, Final Words of Advice)

Dr. King was right: Devastating effect of aspects of poverty on school achievement (Berliner, 2009)
a. Food deprivation/nutrition
b. Environmental toxins (eg the case of lead)
c.  Lack of health care (eg school nurses in high and low poverty schools)
d. Lack of access to books: home, school, community

1. Full employment at a living wage for honest work
2. Short term: protect children from the effects of poverty
a. No child left unfed (S. Ohanian)
b. Improved health care at school (eg school nurses)
c.  Provide access to books: support libraries


Current level of CC$$ testing, compared to NCLB
NCLB:  end of year: CC$$:  end of year, interim (formative), possible pretest
NCLB: math, reading: CC$$: math, writing, sometimes science > test everything (standards being created for other subjects)
NCLB: 3-8, once in HS: CC$$: P-12
"How much testing?"

Evidence supporting increased testing? NONE
More standardized high stakes tests do not mean better performance: Nichols, Glass & Berliner, 2006.
Adding SATs to grades does not improve prediction of college success: (Bowen, Chingos, & McPherson, 2009; Geiser & Santelices, 2007) = teacher evaluation of students might be more valid?

The great testing boondoggle: all tests must be online. connect all students/provide computers/upgrade and replace/new "innovations"
The .01% invests very little, and takes NO RISK: Taxpayers pay for everything, and if it fails: students/teachers suffer, teachers blamed, but corporations win: Call for more tests and more technology.

We can protect children from much of the impact of poverty for a fraction of the cost of new tests. A modest proposal: Keep (an improved) NAEP, drop the rest.

The current debate: renewal of Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
The opt-out movement:
The impact on proposals for the new law:
-       Keep NCLB levels
-       Test only every few years: A real change or "expanding the floor of the cage."
-       Conjecture: amount of testing deliberately made excessive, so it could be cut back a little, enough to satisfy some critics. The profits remain = online testing, bleeds legitimate school programs.

WORLD-WIDE testing: Learning Metrics Task Force: "to improve learning we must be able to measure and monitor its outcomes" (p. 30).
Seven areas to be tested: physical well-being (eg nutrition, exercise), social & emotional (eg conflict resolution, civic values, mental health), culture and the arts (eg awareness and respect for diversity, creative arts), learning approaches and cognition (reasoning and problem-solving, critical thinking), numeracy and mathematics, science and technology, and: literacy and communication

Combined test to be given at the end of primary school; reading also at end of grade three
"Ready to learn" testing on entry to primary school:"five of the seven domains: physical well-being, social and emotional, literacy and communication, learning approaches and cognition, and numeracy and mathematics."
p.26: Citizen of the World: Measuring among youth the demonstration of values and skills necessary for success in their communities, countries and the world. Beyond reading and numeracy …

Literacy and communication testing
    Early childhood level: Receptive language, Expressive language, Vocabulary, Print
    Primary: Oral fluency, oral comprehension, reading fluency, reading comprehension, receptive vocabulary, written expression/composition
    Post-primary: Speaking and listening, writing and reading

Co-Chairs of Learning Task Force
Pratham – Rukmini Banerji, Director of Programs
Pearson – Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor
UNICEF – Geeta Rao Gupta, Deputy Executive Director (Programmes)

The long term goal: The end of the teaching profession -

The US education budget, K-12 – $600 billion, much is teacher benefits, retirement, salary
To elminate benefits/retirement
-       hire temps
-       Flipped classrooms and glorify technology in general
-       Eliminate due process
-       No raise for seniority
-       Stress importance of evalution (sends message that teachers are incompetent)
-       Attack unions
-       Claim schools are failing because of bad teaching
More money left for computers, with no supporting data, obsolete by the time they are installed

National Education Technology Plan, 2010:  US Department of Education insists that we introduce massive technology into the schools immediately, because of the "the pressing need to transform American education ...",  even if this means doing it imperfectly: Repairs can be done later: "... we do not have the luxury of time: We must act now and commit to fine-tuning and midcourse corrections as we go."

(1) our schools are really really inadequate, and we must rush to fix them;
(2) technology is the major part of the fix; and
(3) imperfect technology is better than no technology.