Note: I am consolidating all of my writing to this blog. This was originally posted on the Homeschool Network.
A recent study by the National Endowment for the Arts found a link between declining test scores and a decline in reading. Simply put readers did better on standardized tests than non-readers.
My first thought was well, of course. Reading comprehension is an important part of all standardized tests, especially subject tests like science and social studies. Reading is a skill and like any skill it must be practiced. The best way to improve reading ability is by reading. I once taught in a school for children with reading problems. New parents were impressed that 90 minutes each morning was dedicated to reading. Well, that sounded good on paper but the director was quick to jump on the band wagon for miracle cure programs. The students spent 15 minutes of that time doing bean bag exercises in the library and then they walked to the computer lab for 15 minutes on a computer program. Then they returned to their classrooms for 15 minutes of timed reading tests & flash cards. Subtract another 10-15 minutes for transition time. I was left with about 30 minutes of instruction time. I was assigned students reading on 8 different instructional levels ranging from non-readers to about a 4th grade reading level. I had very little time for actual reading. When I asked wouldn’t it be better if we just read with the students more I was belittled for suggesting something so simple and that severely dyslexic students couldn’t learn to read until their motor skills improved. The key to this seemed to be neat handwriting and yes my non-reader had the neatest handwriting in the group. Gee, my handwriting is atrocious, I am dyslexic, I never participated in such programs and I have been reading on a post-secondary level since 5th grade. How you might ask? Well, my mom cornered me on the red sofa every night and forced me to read. Simple but it worked.