Improving Education for Children: Standards and Research

By Wood, Jacalyn K. | Childhood Education, Winter 1996 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Improving Education for Children: Standards and Research

Wood, Jacalyn K., Childhood Education

Since the report A Nation at Risk appeared in the 1980s, educators, parents, taxpayers and legislators have all wrestled with how to best improve education, asking themselves, "What is the best way to educate children and how can we ensure that all children receive the same level of education?" Unfortunately, no consensus has emerged. Many organizations and groups, however, are beginning to seriously examine the effectiveness of their own programs and are developing standards to redefine education for the 21st century.

This column reviews three new publications related to standards and research. The first publication is the Standards for English Language Arts, cooperatively developed by the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. They have followed the successful lead of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and other professional organizations in creating standards related to their field. It is a unique document in that it represents the cooperative effort of two major curricular groups. It should have a major impact on the teaching of English language arts.

The second publication is an issue of The Future of Children, which presents research on the effects of early childhood programs such as Head Start, preschools, child care programs and family-focused programs. The issue also examines effective programs that offer positive experiences for young children.

The final reviewed publication, The Failure of Bilingual Education, was developed by the Center for Equal Opportunity. In this publication, various teachers, parents and experts consider changes to current bilingual programs.

STANDARDS FOR THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS. Newark, DE: International Reading Association and Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1996. 131 pp. Representatives of the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English worked together for four years to develop a set of standards defining what students should know about language. Their goal was to

define, as clearly and specifically as possible, the current consensus among literacy teachers and researchers about what students should learn in the language arts - reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing and visually representation. The ultimate purpose of these standards is to ensure that all students are offered the opportunities, encouragement and vision to develop the language skills they need to pursue life's goals, including personal enrichment and participation as informed members of our society. (p. 1)

The resulting publication presents 12 standards that, when considered as a whole, define the content of the English Language Arts. Included in the list are such standards as reading a wide range of print and nonprint texts, employing a wide range of strategies for writing, applying knowledge of language structure and language conventions, and developing an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns and dialects. Each standard is discussed in detail, including relevant research related to the issue and examples of classroom practice.

I found interesting the focus on using nonprint texts, including spoken text (such as speeches and plays) and visual text (such as films, television, advertisements and multimedia resources). Such a focus is certainly relevant to the world of tomorrow.

The publication's final chapter explores the standards through a series of vignettes relevant to all levels of schooling. They are all applicable for classroom practice. In one vignette, for example, four elementary students studied water purification as part of an inquiry project. The vignette presents a classroom practice that entails a number of the standards listed, as well as an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning.

The publication's failure to specifically discuss phonics instruction may, however, arouse controversy.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Improving Education for Children: Standards and Research


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?