I totally agree with Mrs. Fouraker’s statement, above. Not enough value is placed on cultural literacy in education in today’s world, but society will swing back to understanding that literacy is probably more important than understanding science and math for human beings to create a peaceful, educated world.
I agree with Mrs. Fouraker’s thoughts expressed in her letter to legislators. I was a high school English teacher before I earned a M.Ed. as a Reading Specialist. As a Reading Specialist, I learned how to be a reading diagnostician to insure better the individual success of every student than I had understood as an English teacher. Reading skills affect every curriculum area, including mathematics. I agree with those who praised the Iowa Test of Basic Skills because that test gave a grade-level reading score for every student regardless of the actual grade level that student was assigned. One diagnostic test, such as the ITBS, should be enough testing in schools (for the year) to chart the academic growth of every student from year to year in basic reading and math skills. However, educators must be trained in how to utilize those test results to know how to instruct with precision to each student’s ability to comprehend what they are reading in every course. Reading-in-the content-area should be a part of every teacher’s curriculum course requirement.
Next, more on the political aspect of WHY so much testing has been initiated in the United States in education in the past dozen years.
My plea was to have citizens realize that generational poverty – in which literacy has not been a priority in families in Georgia for generations but that survival has been their priority because of poverty – has impeded the reading comprehension skills of many students because of the formalized structure of the English language placed within standardized test items. Nevertheless, many of those same students who failed those GHSGT could tell you the answers to many of those same curriculum test questions (math included) if the questions were phrased in colloquial English or asked through verbal, not written, language.
Because I loved teaching college level vocabulary and the ideas contained in comprehension passages found on practice SATs, rarely were my students bored or inattentive and I didn’t have discipline problems. Many might have thought that subject matter might bore some students, but I will give testimony to the fact that if a teacher loves her subject matter, has an enthusiastic desire to communicate that knowledge to her students and watch them grow into their own understandings of that content (as well as loves her students), students are rarely bored or inattentive. That has been my experience.
However, as many know, during the first few weeks of each quarter, I made certain that every student I taught was functioning high enough in verbal skills to at least pass the Advanced Reading course. If not, through having analyzed the standardized reading test scores of those students who were failing my weekly vocabulary tests, I could assess who was presently misplaced in Advanced Reading. Then, I spoke with the students, the parents, and the counselors, and had those misplaced students rescheduled for our Personalized Reading course, taught by another Reading Specialist until those students could master the curriculum in Advanced Reading. Many, later, did qualify for Advanced Reading after they had progressed in their verbal skills. I do not recall any student or parent rejecting my suggestion for a movement to Personalized Reading because I shared the data and my reasoning with students, their parents, and the counselors before moves were made. So, having all of my students well placed was another reason that my students were rarely bored or inattentive to the curriculum I taught them. In fact, truthfully, they were hungry to learn the content. That’s what having every student well placed according to his or her correct instructional level will do.