What's Happening to Reading Scores? While 'Whole Language' Approach Has Been the Trend, Declining Test Scores Have Some Educators Giving 'Phonics' a Second Look

By Wallace, Diana; Cole, Bill | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), November 10, 1996 | Go to article overview

What's Happening to Reading Scores? While 'Whole Language' Approach Has Been the Trend, Declining Test Scores Have Some Educators Giving 'Phonics' a Second Look


Wallace, Diana, Cole, Bill, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Diana Wallace and Bill Cole Daily Herald Staff Writers

Reading scores in Lake County are on the decline, raising questions about whether educators, parents, society - or the authors of tests - are to blame.

As a debate rages in suburban Chicago and across the nation about how reading should be taught, Illinois' education agency has reported that statewide average scores on the Illinois Goals Assessment Program reading exams fell this year in three out of four grade levels.

Moreover, state averages have fallen at every grade level since 1993, in some cases as many as 27 points on a 500-point scale.

"Clearly, this is not acceptable," State Superintendent of Education Joseph Spagnolo said at an August "reading summit" he called to examine the problem.

Though test scores in virtually all Lake County school districts hovered well above state averages, most saw some, if not drastic, slippage.

And many school districts sustained a significant hit in scores, including a 32-point drop at prestigious Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, a 52-point decline in Rondout Elementary District 72's sixth-grade scores and a 46-point dip among eighth-graders in Fremont Elementary District 79 near Mundelein.

"It's a complicated question as to why this is happening. It's an area where school districts are looking for answers," said Lee Milner, State Board of Education spokesman. "But clearly, with the results we've seen over the last two years, we think there is a problem in students' reading levels."

Indeed, the reading scores have stymied suburban school officials, some of whom are now second-guessing their approaches to reading and trying to understand how scores in other areas have generally held up in the face of a decline in the most fundamental of academic skills.

"There's no question we're very disappointed," said Walter Friker, assistant superintendent for instruction at Buffalo Grove-Long Grove Elementary District 96. His district saw a 33-point drop in eighth-grade reading from 1995 to 1996.

Though Friker said the district continues to fine-tune its approach, he denied that its curriculum was at the root of the problem.

"We don't believe that reading instruction, but keeping students interested in reading, is the issue," he said.

Books vs. electronics

In an era when many children spend more time with a Nintendo control in their hands than a book, area educators point out that they are fighting an uphill battle when trying to improve the literacy of children who spend less and less time reading outside of school.

"Kids have an enormous amount of diversions that take them away from reading," said Ron Perlman, director of The Center, a suburban teacher training cooperative and one of the organizers of the recent summit. "How can you do something well if you don't do it at all?"

In response to this trend, schools such as Willow Grove Elementary in Buffalo Grove are trying to do what apparently isn't happening enough at home: set aside time for independent reading.

"We've created time within the school day to do reading, and we're making it both fun and accountable," said Willow Grove Reading Specialist Lyn Bortnick, adding that "study after study has indicated that the most important thing students can do (to improve their overall academic performance) is independent reading."

In the Wauconda schools, Curriculum Director Janet Ring said the school system has responded to the reading score decline with a flurry of teacher meetings to discuss strategies for improvement.

The decision was made, Ring said, to emphasize the decoding and comprehension of reading text to "put pieces of information in text together to answer questions."

"That's basically what you do when you don't know exactly what's wrong," Ring said. "You zero in on those strategies that you know are critical. …

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

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.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What's Happening to Reading Scores? While 'Whole Language' Approach Has Been the Trend, Declining Test Scores Have Some Educators Giving 'Phonics' a Second Look
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.