Thursday, January 8, 2015

Unprepared for College

This is not good news. The average American college freshman reads at the seventh grade level. He or she does math at the eighth grade level.

Campus Reform reports:

“We are spending billions of dollars trying to send students to college and maintain them there when, on average, they read at about the grade 6 or 7 level, according to Renaissance Learning’s latest report on what American students in grades 9-12 read, whether assigned or chosen,” said education expert Dr. Sandra Stotsky.

Stotsky, a Professor Emerita at the University of Arkansas, served on the Common Core Validation Committee in 2009-10, during which she called the standards “inferior.” She claimed the Common Core left out the very standards needed to prepare students for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers.

“The average reading level for five of the top seven books assigned as summer reading by 341 colleges using Renaissance Learning’s readability formula was rated 7.56 [meaning halfway through seventh grade],” Stotsky told Breitbart Texas.

Note that these statistics only apply to entering college freshmen. If they had included the children who do not go to college, the level would surely be lower.

Why should this be so?

It must have something to do with the way children are being brought up. It certainly has something to do with the way they are taught in school.

It might reflect the fact that many of these children are not exposed to enough spoken words when they are young. It might also be the price we pay for so many single-parent families.

Today’s American children are being brought up in less than optimal circumstances. Perhaps the statistics reflect this reality.

The second part of this report is also intriguing.  For her part Stotsky is surprised to learn that, when it comes to reading, boys and girls still prefer gender appropriate books:

She adds that despite societal changes over the past 100 years, both male and female students have continued to read the same type of material as past generations. Girls tend to gravitate towards books about relationships and animals, while boys enjoy adventure stories, military exploits, superheroes, and historical nonfiction.

“For almost 100 years, there have been many surveys in this country of what children prefer to read. Despite changes in immigration patterns, family literacy, and cultural influences, what boys and girls like to read has been relatively stable,” said Stotsky.

Do teachers assign readings that appeal to boys or do they limit the selections to books that would normally appeal only to girls? Do they believe that their role is to ensure that boys grow up to become persons, not men?

One suspects that they are more likely gear the readings toward subjects like relationships and feelings and away from military exploits and superheroes.

Is this why so many boys spend so much time with their videogames and so little time on their school subjects?


Anonymous said...

Prosaically, older generations have lamented the sorry state of their youngers. However, current statistics demonstrate a staggering diminution of motivation, morale, competence, accomplishments, test scores, graduation rates, and general knowledge in the majority of our young population.

E.g., only 25% of US young men are deemed qualified for military service. What in heaven's name will most of the others do for 21st C jobs?

I grew up in a blue collar home. No books, mags, papers, cultural stimulation. I was beaten for Reading Books! Yet nuns and HS teachers helped make me a soi disant intellectual. Enough to be called "The best speechwriter in the Navy".

I'm no beau ideal or Role Model or preening egotist. I feel fortunate. I wonder what I'd become if I were 14 today.

What went wrong? Plenty of pundits, books, conferences, tycoons, politicians, have myriad answers. Color me skeptical. -- Rich Lara

n.n said...

The most expensive education system in the world, and its product does not even rank in the top 10. Solution: more money.

Oh, well. Accountability is not high on many Americans' lists. They are notably pro-choice and indulge -- perhaps overdose -- themselves with promises of material opiates.

How is it that no one predicted this? Yet they can predict multi-decadel, global temperature variances within 2 degrees. The rate of pseudo-science infiltration in liberal societies is impressive.

Dennis said...

It always interests me on seeing a bumper sticker that states "If you can read this thank a teacher." It makes me wonder who do I blame for the fact that even in reading a significant number cannot read past a 7th grade level and the extent of their vocabulary is, many times, less the 500 words. Not withstanding that these students have little understanding of science, history, both US and world history, lack mathematical skills, cannot make change, et al. The list of skills that students should possess after graduating from high school, but do not is so long that it makes one want to be embarrassed for them. The only skill that they seemed to possess in abundance is feeling good about themselves.
Sadly, this lack of understanding is reenforced in the academic environment by failing to prepare them to deal with ideas that they might disagree by a "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" approach to what is more indoctrination than education.
Why would we not understand that rights like "freedom of speech," et al are only played lip service even by most media outlets despite all the machinations. One scan of the NYTimes and it is not difficult to recognize the hypocrisy, lack of true conviction and cowering in action. A stance of "I would rather live on my knees vice die standing up."
Those who would destroy us have already won when one self limits one's rights. I would posit that there are no bigger cowards than that which exists in academe and the "media." It would appear that the only time these institutions are brave is when it is safe to be brave.

Sam L. said...

Dennis, I'm going with teachers' unions, and the left which encourages them because Discrimination! Sexism! Raaaaacism! It's-To-Hardism! And they want a dumber proletariat.

Dennis said...


You missed two of the biggest protagonists in creating a divisive campaign to take control of this country, the federal government and the democrat party. They need to dumb down the population and destroy jobs in order to create the proletariat. Illegal immigration sees this purpose in manifold ways.
Poorly educated and jobless people make the stuff of revolutions. If one can control a population's healthcare then one can control almost every aspect of their existence from birth to death. It is somewhat like Interstate Commerce in the past in that almost nothing cannot be placed under that rubric.
Add to that the control of education and what passes as teaching and one literally has the distinct possibility of almost total control. Of course one would have to have the acquiescence of academe and by extension K through 12 to get and maintain total control. Those who think they are smarter than others are almost always the easiest to fool and manipulate. Throw a few grants their way and they will all commit "Gruber" like actions.
Once one can get a population to believe that it does not have the wherewithal to survive and propers sans the government's "benevolent" largess then one has created the subjects required to be controlled.
Freedom is so easily thrown away for the security that governments pretend to provide.

Dennis said...

I am literally beginning to dislike spell check.
"serves this purpose" "prosper"