The American Literacy Tragedy


Tyr
#1
Americans barely reach the international literacy average set by advanced democracies.



At science and math, American students trail those in other advanced democracies. The longer students are in school, the worse things get. Among fourth graders, U.S. students rank high on the International Test of Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Despite this head start, by eighth grade, American adolescents have slipped to the midpoint on the TIMSS, and, by age seventeen, their scores trail all but those in a few developing countries.
Perhaps this is "just" math and science, something American schools have never been good at. Besides, apologists say, Asian students (who score at the top on the TIMSS) are inexplicable math and science geniuses.

Yet low performance is not limited to these more challenging subjects. Americans barely reach the international literacy average set by advanced democracies, according to a report issued by the Educational Testing Service after looking at the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS). Unlike the math and science surveys, the IALS was given to a cross section of adults aged 16 to 65. Despite the high expenditures on education in the United States—and the large numbers of students enrolled in colleges and universities—the United States ranked 12th on the test.

Apologists will find excuses for these outcomes; immigrants pull down U.S. scores, it will be said, overlooking the fact that other countries have immigrants too. Lifelong learning opportunities are greater in the United States than elsewhere, it will be claimed, so young folks will eventually reach the levels of the oldest group.
But such excuses don't ring true. All signs point to a deterioration in the quality of American schools.

Europeans and Asians alike have rapidly expanded their educational systems over the last fifty years. In the United States stagnation if not decline has been apparent at least since the seventies. Even our high school graduation rates are lower today than they were a decade ago.
Last edited by Tyr; Jan 23rd, 2009 at 02:39 PM..
 
Ron in Regina
#2
"The American Literacy Tradgedy" is a tragedy.
 
TenPenny
#3
Okay, who did that?
 
EagleSmack
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by TenPenny View Post

Okay, who did that?

Gee I wonder.

How sweet was that!
 
earth_as_one
#5
Rick Mercer talking to Americans
YouTube - Rick Mercer - Talking To Americans
 
Said1
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by Tyr View Post


The longer students are in school, the worse things get. Among fourth graders, U.S. students rank high on the International Test of Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Despite this head start, by eighth grade, American adolescents have slipped to the midpoint on the TIMSS, and, by age seventeen, their scores trail all but those in a few developing countries..


Sums up my academic career. My final grade at the end of the year in art was 20% when I was in gr.8.
 
Cannuck
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by EagleSmack View Post

Gee I wonder.

How sweet was that!

OK, I think I know what happened but somebody has fess up.
 
Spade
#8
"If I could only write I'd write a nasty letter to the Mayor if he could only read."
--A Bug (in Walt Kelly's Pogo)
 
Spade
#9
Part of the literacy and numeracy problems is the lack of public support for needed educational reforms in America. Everyone with a grade-six education feels he is an expert! I should know, I passed grade seven!
YouTube - Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth
 
TenPenny
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by Spade View Post

"If I could only write I'd write a nasty letter to the Mayor if he could only read."
--A Bug (in Walt Kelly's Pogo)

Jes' Fine says Bug!!!
 
Someone
#11
I teach in San Francisco Bay Area public schools - mainly the inner city ones, and man, is it true! It's sad! For one thing, the standards are higher and there are scripted curricula, but they don't take into account the many needs: special needs and English learners. We know such people exist, but you know what, our standards expect them to perform like everyone else. If a third-grader with autism who hears Vietnamese at home is performing at a kindergarten level, the school and teacher get punished, instead of the system asking what it can do for better. Meanwhile, funding is declining.

If you're going to have high standards for students, accommodate their needs. My understanding is that Canadian public schools put in good funding for ESL and Special Education classes. In the U.S., they suck.

I once took my cousin who lives in Vancouver (or actually, Surrey) to a school I once worked at near Richmond, California. He saw a dilapidated building with boarded up windows (good thing he didn't see the pest traps inside). He said "Man, this place looks like a dump! This wouldn't happen in Canada, they would fix it immediately!" Of course, that school now has a new building, but it looks like it will only be a few years before it looks like what the old building looked like.

I've worked with kids who come from single-parent homes in which there are 3 other siblings with different dads and Mommy has to work overtime. Furthermore, Mommy herself is poorly educated, so she can't reinforce at home what the kid learns at school (likely, she doesn't know it herself).

And too many Americans do not value education. Not to be racist, but I notice that here in California, and across the United States, the ones who value education the most are middle- and upper-class whites as well as recent immigrants from anywhere and their kids (with the exception of Mexicans). A lot of Mexican families don't seem to value education because they would rather work. And then a large percentage of people who have been in the United States for more than 3 generations don't care about education either.

I've worked in schools in which 6th graders drink beer in class and sometimes have sex (just think, that's 11/12 year-olds). Schools where 2nd graders make out and 1st graders are already talking about racism (i.e. Mexican kids saying they don't like black kids and vice-versa). Imagine what the high schools are like!

Anybody recommend me moving to Canada to teach? I heard that even high schools in inner-city areas are pretty tame.
 

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