Magazine article Insight on the News

Reading Scores Reflect Badly on U.S. Pupils

Magazine article Insight on the News

Reading Scores Reflect Badly on U.S. Pupils

Article excerpt

Declines cut across race, gender and type of school. Educators point fingers in response.

Recently released reading scores reveal that pupils in America's public and private schools have serious reading problems - and the situation is not getting better.

Reading scores for 12th-graders dropped five points between 1992 and 1994, slipping from 291 to 286 on a proficiency scale of 0 to 500, according to findings released April 27 by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. Testing experts consider it a statistically significant change. Eighth-grade reading scores were stable at 260. Fourth-grade scores dropped three points, from 218 to 215.

"The results of the 1994 NAEP reading report should serve as a wake-up call to Americans or, better yet, a whack on the head"' says William T. Randall, Colarado's education commissioner and chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, the independent group that sets policy for the NAEP "Reading - as a skill, as an information gathering process and as a recreation - is in serious trouble. The decline in test scores among 12th-grade student is itself cause for alarm."

According to Education Secretary Richard W Riley, "Too many students are spending too little time reading and too much time watching mindnumbing television." But Emerson J. Elliott, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, says the reading decline occurred during a period when there was "no change in homework, in computer use or in television watching. …

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