Monday, August 14, 2017

The role of pediatricians: A friendly amendment to the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement.

Sent to Education Week, August 14, 2017

Ed Week reports that "Pediatricians urged to get involved with early-childhood education." (August 11), via a policy report. Both Ed Week and the policy report note that cost is a significant problem.  I mention here a program with consistently positive effects that costs relatively little: Reach Out and Read.

The core of the program is reading aloud to children.  There is overwhelming evidence showing that read-alouds are beneficial: Children who are read to regularly consistently do better on tests of vocabulary, grammar, and listening comprehension, and read-alouds do an excellent job of stimulating interest in books. This has been documented in Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook and numerous technical reports.  Reach Out and Read makes books available, and informs parents of the value and pleasure of reading aloud.

The intervention is modest: While in waiting rooms for well-child pediatrician's appointments, hospital staff members show parents reading activities they can do with their children, with a focus on reading aloud to the child, and staff members discuss the importance of reading, which the physician does as well. The families receive free books at each doctor visit. Reach Out and Read is aimed at lower-income groups who have little access to books and thus typically score considerably lower than average on vocabulary tests.

Studies show that children participating in these programs make excellent gains in vocabulary (see for reviews). In one study, done over a three-year span, subjects had an average of only three well-child appointments in which their doctors discussed books and they received an average of four books during the three years. Nevertheless, the children did far better than comparison children on vocabulary tests, scoring closer to middle-class norms.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Krashen, S. 2011. Reach out and read (aloud). Language Magazine 10  (12): 17-19.
Mendelsohn A., Mogiler L., Dreyer B., Forman J., Weinstein S., Broderick M., Cheng K., Magloire T., Moore T. and Napier C. 2001. The impact of a clinic-based literacy intervention on language development in inner-city preschool children. Pediatrics 107(1): 130–134.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Libraries and poverty: NOTES

Libraries and Poverty.  NOTES
S. Krashen

The big problem: POVERTY
The terrible schools assumption
1. A a demonstrated fact?: e.g. Neil de Grasse Tyson tweet , 7/18: The rise of flat-Earthers in society provides some of the best evidence for the failure of our educational system.
2. They used to be better
Popular explanations
Bad teachers
- created by schools of education, second-class educational research (far more complicated than simple psychology experiments – multivariate methods)
- bad teachers protected by teachers' unions – (but see E. Han, 2016, "highly unionized districts actually fire more bad teachers" – V.Strauss, Washington Post,, J. Berkshire, Edushyster).
- not only incompetent, but immoral and unethical: compared to?
Lazy "kids these days": Krashen, S. 2011. Why We Should Stop Scolding Teenagers and Their Schools: Frequency of Leisure Reading
. Language Magazine 11 (4): 18-21, 2011.  ( Harvard, 1894; 1874; Biggs, 1930; Ravitch & Finn, 1987

Do people really think schools are bad?  Groundhog Day: Americans Again Rate Local Schools Higher than Schools of the Nation

   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, 2015).

   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 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 poverty, American students' international test scores rank near the top of the world. I wonder how many of those interviewed know this?         Stephen Krashen

The "evidence" = international test scores
- actually, not bad: 2015 PISA, US 497 in reading; 14 countries better, 13 the same, 42 worse: No difference since 2000, first time reading test given.
b. the huge inflence of poverty on test scores.
Consistent correlations between measures of poverty and academic achievement.

US states
Aus: states/terr
1        meta-analysis: White,  K. 1982. The relation between socio-eoconomic status and academic achievement. Psychological Bulletin 91 (3): 461-481. Data from table 5, page 469.
2        S. Krashen, August , 2017.  FRL = percentage receiving free or reduced lunch in each state.  NAEP scores from NAEP 2015.
3        S. Krashen, 2015. Reading scores from; Poverty data: UnitingCare Children, Young People and Families and NATSEM Report Poverty, Social Exclusion and Disadvantage in Australia October 2013.  Poverty data from tabk 1,  half-median method, overall poverty.
4        Krashen, S., Lee, S.Y. & 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. HDI: The Human Development Index is an average of three factors: education (adult literacy rates, school enrollment), life expectancy and wealth (logarithm of income); See 
5        S. Krashen, August 2017. UNICEF Innocenti Report Card 13. Child poverty, half-median method, "rich countries."

When researchers control for the effect of poverty, US ranks near the top of the world. Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13; Bracey, G. 2009. The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Berliner, D. 2011. The Context for Interpreting PISA Results in the USA: Negativism, Chauvinism, Misunderstanding, and the Potential to Distort the Educational Systems of Nations. In Pereyra, M., Kottoff, H-G., & Cowan, R. (Eds.). PISA under examination: Changing knowledge, changing tests, and changing schools. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers. Tienken, C. 2010. Common core state standards: I wonder? Kappa Delta Phi Record 47 (1): 14-17. Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012.

Differences among countries:
Finland: PISA = 537,  child poverty = 3.7; Korea: 517, 8; Norway: 513, 4.5
Australia: 503, 9.3; USA: 497, 20
Turkey: 428, 22.9; Bulgaria: 432, 23.1; Romania: 434, 24.3

Why US test scores "unspectacular": 20% child poverty, highest of all wealthy countries (Innocenti Report), Astonishing differences:among cities (assumes average for nation = 14%), years 2100-2015,  New York = 30%,  Chicago = 33%,  Los Angeles = 34%,  Detroit = 85%.  

Australia: "Australian students from a wealthy background show a difference of about two-and-a-half years of schooling compared to a student from the lowest socio-economic group."

Poverty of individual AND school, combined impact (PISA reading, 2003: age 15)
Worst student poverty = 70-90 points lower than most privileged
Students in higest poverty schools = 50-60 points lower than students in wealther schools
Both: 150 points lower than high SES students in high SES schools. Perry, L. B. & McConney, A. (2010). Does the SES of the school matter? An examination of socioeconomic status and student achievement using PISA 2003. Teachers College Record, 112 (4).1137-1162.

Confusion of cause and effect: US Gov: promote education to reduce poverty
Martin Luther King: "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.”
Yes, improve education, but deal with poverty   The problem is poverty. NOT: teaching, schools of ed, unions, parents, lack of national standards/tests

Impact of poverty
1. food deprivation & health care (Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success.
Innocenti report: Income gap between poorest and average children & nutrition in 34 countries (frequency of eating fruit and vegetables). r2 = .79 r = .89.
2. lack of access to reading material
The Beverly Hills/Watts study:  Available books in home: BH = 200; Watts = .4; Classroom libraries: BH = 400; Watts = 50 (Smith, C., Constantino, R. & Krashen, S. 1997. Differences in print environment for children in Beverly Hills, Compton and Watts. Emergency Librarian 24,4:4-5.)
The Philadelphia study: Public libraries in middle-income neighborhoods open two evenings per week, closed at 6 pm in low-income neighborhoods.
Far more juvenile books per child in high-income public libraries."Children in middle-income neighborhoods were likely to be deluged with books. However, children from poor neighborhoods would have to aggressively and persistently seek them out" (p. 15).  Neuman, S. & Celano, D. (2001). Access to print in low-income and middle- income communities. Reading Research Quarterly, 36(1), 8-26. 
What they have to read is not interesting: Worthy, J., M. Moorman, and M. Turner. 1999. Reading Research Quarterly 34(10): 12-27.

Access as part of the cure
More access > more reading (Power of Reading, 57-63); Ramos & Krashen, below; reluctant readers often have little access (Worthy & McKool)
Goeffrey Canada: "I loved reading, and my mother, who read voraciously too, allowed me to have her novels after she finished them. My strong reading background allowed me to have an easier time of it in most of my classes."

Liz Murray (Breaking Night): "Any formal education I received came from the few days I spent in attendance, mixed with knowledge I absorbed from random readings of my or Daddy's ever-growing supply of unreturned library books. And as long as I still showed up steadily the last few weeks of classes to take the standardized tests, I kept squeaking by from grade to grade."

The evidence for libraries:

Predictors of reading - The PIRLS 2006: over 40 countries, tested in first language
Independent reading
Library: 500 books
r2 = .63  from: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 books
class libr
parent read
early lit
r2 = .62

Parental reading (parent read) = percentage of parents in each country who say they like to read.
Early literacy achievement" = percentage of parents who report that their child can perform basic reading and writing tasks before entering school “very well”:
1. Recognize most of the letters of the alphabet.
2. Read some words.
3. Read sentences.
4. Write letters of the alphabet.
5. Write some words.

See also, of course: Keith Curry Lance;

Closing the gap between African –American and white children: SES accounts for 2/3 of gap, books in home accounts for the rest.  Fryer, R. and 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.

The impact of the public library
- B. Heyns, 1975 (Summer Learning): those who live closer to public libraries read more (much of gap occurs during summer). Heyns, B. 1975. Summer Learning and the Effect of School. New York: Academic Press.
- Lin, S.Y., Shin, F., and Krashen, S.  2007. Sophia’s choice: Summer reading. Knowledge Quest 35(4): 52-55. (
- Ramos and Krashen (1998; Reading Teacher). The impact of one trip to the public library – allowed ten books
Child survey (n = 93)
First time visited the public library:
52% Returned to the library since the visit:
62% Reading more since the library visit:
75% Feel reading is easier now: 82%
Parent survey (n=75)

Children more interested in reading since visiting the library: 96%
Notice improvement in child’s reading: 94%

Child spends more time with books: 94%
Would like the library visiting program to continue: 100%

Child has asked parent to take them to the library since the visit: 67%.

What is it about the library?  BOOKS!!!!! And largely fiction!

Library an important source of books: ages 6 to 17
Library: 67%; bookstore 33%;. bookfair 45%.  (Kids & Family Reading Project, 6th edition)
Ideas about books
School librarians: 31%; teachers 38%; friends 39%; siblings/cousins 23%; parents/family 39%; public librarian 16%   (Kids and Family Reading Report, 5th edition, Scholastic)

MORE ACCESS > MORE READING >  more literacy, knowledge, "habits of mind"
The research:  SSR,  correlational, case histories


Krashen, 2001 (Kappan): as good or better in 50/53 cases

no diff
less than 7m
7m-1 yr
> 1 yr

Effect Sizes for Three Recent SSR Meta-Analyses: English as a foreign language

Reading Comprehension
Krashen (2007)

.87 (15)
Nakanishi (2015)
.18 (9)
.68 (15)
Jeon and Day (2016)
.47 (17)
.54 (46)

Do they like SSR? N = 446
Yes: favorite (34%); more often (21%)
No: distracted (20%); bored (18%); less often (12%)
Also: hard to find the right books (23%)
Kids and Family Reading Report, 5th edition, Scholastic

NOTE: the case against SSR  (sustained silent page-turning?) Krashen, S. 2011. Nonengagement in sustained silent reading: How extensive is it? What can it teach us? Colorado Reading Council Journal 22: 5-10.
Rare, especially if you wait a few weeks.
When it occurs, SSR principles violated:
evaluation or fear of evaluation/ books too hard/not interesting/rigid rules/finish what you start/books only

Correlational studies: Krashen & Mason (, 2015): 7 subjects did self-selected reading, Ages 21-78! 22-162 weeks. Points gained/hour on TOEIC = .62 
UK Study: Predictors of scores on vocabulary test at age 42
- Reading at age 42: independent of reading at 16 or younger, previous vocab.
- Fiction: high-brow and middle-brow, but not low-brow
- Reading: even when control for parent occupation & education
Sullivan, A. & Brown, M. 2014. Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Univ of London
Fay Shin (Shin, 2001, Shin and Krashen, 2008): 6 weeks of self-selected reading during the summer, 6th graders with low reading proficiency. 2hrs, SSR (25 min in library). District increased book selection, most books from Goosebumps series. RC: 5 months again on Altos, one year on Nelson-Denny, 6 months on vocabulary.  Shin, F. and Krashen, S. 2007. Summer Reading: Program and Evidence. New York: Allyn and Bacon.  (free downlaod,

Develops Knowledge: Stanovich & colleagues: readers know more about literature, history, science,  "cultural literacy," "practical knowledge." 
Career success: “omnivorous reading in childhood and adolescence correlates positively with ultimate adult success" (Simonton, 1988)
Michael Faraday (1791-1867): influence of working for a bookbinder for 7 years.

Habits of mind: President Obama gave fiction the credit for his understanding that "the world is complicated and full of grays ... (and that) it's possible to connect with someone else even though they're very different from you." (Guardian, Oct, 2015)
Capacity to empathize, (Kidd & Castano, 2013);  Greater tolerance for vagueness (Dijkie et al, 2013)
Note that impact of reading on litearcy and knowledge largely based on fiction.

The extreme pleasure of self-selected reading
- Reader interviewed by Nell (1988): “... for the few hours a day I read ‘trash’ I escape the cares of those around me, as well as escaping my own cares and dissatisfactions.
- Somerset Maugham, in Nell (1988): “Conversation, after a time, bores me, games tire me, and my thoughts, which we are told are the unfailing resources of a sensible man have a tendency to run dry. Then I fly to my book as the opium-smoker to his pipe ...” (p. 232).
Nell: reading before you go to sleep - level of arousal increased during reading, declined just after reading below original level
- 24/26 pleasure readings read in bed “nearly every night” or “most nights” (p. 250).
“ Even if I read for only five minutes, I must do it - a compulsion like that of a drug addict!”  
 “My addiction to reading is such that I almost can’t sleep without a minimum of ten minutes (usually 30-60 minutes) of reading” (Nell, p. 250).

Hypothesis: most important function (not the only function) of libraries = providing reading for pleasure = the only source of reading material for those in poverty
Long term EFL readers:  Access, no evaluation, no skill-building, self-selection, narrow, place to read. Cho, KS & Krashen, S.2016. What does it take to develop of long-term pleasure reading habit? Turkish Online Journal of Language Teaching 1(1):1-9.  

What about computers?
YES: free voluntary surfing: a kind of narrow reading.
Wang & Lee (2015): one year of websurfing, second year university students in Taiwan, not English majors; surfed for 20 minutes once a week for one academic year.
1. Surfers made better gains in tests of knowledge of infrequently occuring words, academic words, also on a cloze test.
2. Surfers followed their own interests when surfing, doing "narrow reading."
Wang, F. Y., & Lee, S. Y. (2015). Free voluntary surfing: An extensive reading curriculum supported by technology. In L. H. Das, S. Brand-Gruwel, J. Walhout & K. Kok (Eds.), (2015). The School Library Rocks: Proceedings of the 44th International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) Conference 2015, Volume II: Research Papers (2 Ed.) (pp. 488-503). Heerlen, Open Universiteit.

S.Y. Lee: 31 university students in Taiwan, good in English, 2016: 30/31 regular surfers – usually used Chinese for fun, English for school assignments.
BUT: Javis & Achilleo (2013): internet for personal interest: students studying in UK: L1 only = 36%; Mainly L1, some English = 48.2%; Mainly English = 41.1%
For social networking: L1 only 0; Mainly L1: 37.5%; Mainly English = 42.9%

YES: language experience
Maybe:  e-books  (from Krashen and McQuillan, submitted for publication)
Percentage who have read a print or e-book in the last 12 months.
print book
below 30,000
30,000 - 49,999
50,000 - 74,999
above 75,000
N = 1520 adults,  March, 2016; From: Pew Research Center, 2016

Percentage of adults with E-Book-Readers, tablets, computers, smartphones:

Below 30
75 & more
Pew Research Center, 2015.
n = 959 adults,  interview during March/April 2015. 

School libraries: 12% of collection, 3% of circulation
Public libraries: 7% of collection, 5% of circulation
E-book readers to take home: School libraries: 12%, Public libraries: 38%

NO: Competency-based education.– testing all the time: McDermott, M., Robertson. P., & Krashen, S. 2016. Language Magazine, January 16.; Posted at:
CBE = modules presented online:
1.     covers skills and content knowledge as objectives that are "clear" and "measurable" (p. 3), - severely limits what can be included. 
2.     Students take the tests when they feel they are ready.
3.     Determines school and teacher ratings.
4.     Encouraged by new US education law.
5.     STRONGLY supported by the National Governor's Association in the US, but little research evidence! "Although an emerging research base suggests that CBE is a promising model, it includes only a few rigorous evaluations and analyses of current and ongoing CBE pilots and similar programs" (p. 6).
6.     Claim: personalized because of rate: but pressure to get through quckly
7.     Claim: personalized because students can use alternate strategies – but limited by programmers' options
8.     Reduces role of teachers.
9.     Expensive – huge profits for companies.
The alternative: Leave tech to teachers

Long term: Full employment, living wage
Short term: no child left unfed, without adequate medical care, without access to books
How to pay for it: reduce testing

Libraries: Don't forget the books...
Santa Monica Daily Press March 18, 2017
Published in the Santa Monica Daily Press (California), March 22 2017
"Literacy at the Library" (March 18) tells us that the Santa Monica Public Library offers a truly astonishing menu of programs and services: tutoring, story-time, classes, films, etc. 
Buried deep in the article is the library's most valuable contribution: Books for pleasure reading. In hundreds of scientific reports, our research over the last 40 years has confirmed that recreational reading, or "reading because you want to" is by far the best way to improve reading ability, writing ability, vocabulary, grammar, and even spelling.  Research also shows that those who do more pleasure reading know more about history, and science, and even have more practical knowledge.
Contrary to the recent push for nonfiction in the schools, researchers from the UK recently reported that reading fiction was a better predictor of vocabulary size than reading non-fiction, and that reading at any age boosts vocabulary knowledge.
All the programs offered by the library are valuable, but it needs to be emphasized that the Santa Monica Library has a very good book collection.  For many families with limited means, the library is the only source of reading material. 
Stephen Krashen