Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Focus on interests to result in more learning

Published in the Straits Times, Singapore (January 2, 2017).

I predict that Singapore's move toward helping students develop their interests and talents will result in far more student learning and more satisfaction ( ("Learning through life rather than exams"; Dec 27, 2016).

This was clear to the Greek philosopher Plato (The Republic, VIII, 7): "Compulsory physical exercise does no harm to the body, but compulsory learning never sticks in the mind ....". 

Those who have developed encyclopedic knowledge and mastery of their fields did it through attempting to solve problems of great interest to them, not through "study."

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Original article: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/learning-through-life-rather-than-exams

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Bill Nye, The Science Guy shouldn't believe everything he reads about the Common Core.

Stephen Krashen
http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=6623&section=Article

On Big Think, Bill Nye (The Science Guy) advises us to "use your critical thinking skills. Evaluate evidence. Don't believe everything you read or see" (December 20, 2016). Mr. Nye is a good example of doing exactly that, reading and evaluating evidence carefully from all sides of an issue.  Except in one major case: The Common Core.

Mr. Nye is an enthusiastic supporter of the Common Core standards, because, he says, there are some basic principles everybody needs to know. On Big Think in September, 2014, he says that everybody needs to learn "a little bit of physics, chemistry, mathematics and you got to learn some evolution. You've got to learn some biology ... Everybody's got to learn the alphabet. Everybody's got to learn to read. The U.S. Constitution is written in English so everybody's got to learn to read English." (http://bigthink.com/videos/bill-nye-is-the-core-curriculum-the-antidote-for-creationism).

I completely agree and I think that nearly all educators and parents agree.  Mr. Nye says that the opposition to the common core stems from teachers not wanting to teach subjects they are not very interested in,  and parents' concerns that the content of the core might conflict with their beliefs. 

But the oppoition to the Common Core among professional educators is different:  It is because the standards that make up the official Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are developmentally inappropriate, were created without sufficient consultation with teachers and research on learning, and their validity has never even been investigated.  

In addition, the CCSS imposes a staggering amount of testing. despite research showing that increasing testing does not increase achievement.

Finally, CCSS does not address the real problem in American education.  Critics complain about our unspectacular scores on international tests, but when researchers control for the effect of poverty, American test scores are near the top of the world. Our unimpressive overall scores are because the US has the second highest level of child poverty among all 34 economically advanced countries (now over 20% nationally and around 80% in some inner city school districts), compared to high-scoring Finland’s child poverty level of 5%).

Poverty means poor nutrition, inadequate health care, and lack of access to books, among other things. Study after study confirms that all of these have a profound negative impact on school performance. The best teaching and best standards in the world will not help if students are hungry, ill and have little access to books. 
Instead of protecting children from the effects of poverty, the common core cointinues to invest billions in inappropriate and harmful standards, and useless testing.
I suggest Mr. Nye take a closer look at this issue. 

Literacy: The problem is not professional development. The problem is poverty and lack of access to books.

Sent to the Washington Post, Dec. 23.

As Ellen O'Neill notes in her letter (December 23, 2016), professional development for teachers is important for literacy development.  But there is no crisis in professional development: The problem is poverty. 
The poverty rate for public school students in the District of Colombia is among the highest in the country; this means few books in the home and few bookstores. As noted previously in the Post (March 9, 2015), DC's school libraries serving at-risk students suffer from a shortage of books and have few credential librarians. Clearly, many children in DC have very little access to reading material.
More access to books results in more reading, which in turn means better reading achievement.
The best professional development in the world will be worthless if students have little or nothing to read.

Stephen Krashen

Sources
:
Ellen 0'Neill: Give teachers more training to improve students’ reading proficiency, Washington Post, Dec 23, 2016.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/give-teachers-more-training-to-improve-students-reading-proficiency/2016/12/23/755036a2-c7ac-11e6-acda-59924caa2450_story.html?utm_term=.43c7be0512f2

DC Poverty rate: https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_204.10.asp; neediestkids.org/wp-content/themes/zeekee/images/essential_numbers.pdf
Poverty and access to books: Smith, C. , Constantino, R.  and Krashen, S. 1997. Differences in print environment for children in Beverly Hills, Compton and Watts. Emergency Librarian 24,4:4-5; Neuman, S. & Celano, D. (2001). Access to print in low-income and middle- income communities. Reading Research Quarterly, 36(1), 8-26. 
Given access, children read: Lindsay, J. 2010. Children's Access to Print Material and Education-Related Outcomes: Findings from a Meta-Analytic Review. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates. http://bit.ly/9lKPPa
Noted previously in the Post: Unequal shelves in D.C. school libraries benefit wealthier students, Washington Post, March 9, 2015: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/unequal-shelves-in-dc-school-libraries-benefit-wealthier-students/2015/03/09/f548db96-bd1f-11e4-8668-4e7ba8439ca6_story.html?utm_term=.1dc77dbbc016
More access > more reading > better reading achievement: Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Libraries Unlimited.





Thursday, December 22, 2016

Everything but what works: A comment on "Helping English-Learners Break Through Language Plateaus.



Stephen Krashen

published in Education Week, posted at http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2016/12/16/helping-english-learners-break-through-language-plateaus.html?qs=pillars
(original article included below)

"Helping English-Learners Break Through Language Plateaus" mentions every option except the only one that works: self-selected free voluntary reading. Decades of published research have shown that free voluntary reading is the source of exactly the competencies that this article describes.
Recent studies support the idea that succcessful English language acquirers, those who do not become long-term English learners, are those who develop a reading habit.  Also, the amount of free reading done is an excellent predictor of performance on standardized tests used to determine English proficiency.
In contrast, there is no clear evidence that direct instruction and oral practice are helpful.  Direct instruction produces conscious knowledge of language, which is hard to learn, hard to apply, and hard to remember.  Oral competence, it has been argued, is the result of language acquisition, which happens only through comprehensible input.
"Helping English-Learners …" concludes with this statement: "School is the only place many of our students are likely to hear, use, or produce academic language, and to learn how context brings meaning to language."  I maintain that books (and other reading material) are the only place young people are likely to encounter the comprehensible and interesting language that leads to full academic language competence.
As always, I am happy to provide citations for my statements. 

Posted at:  http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2016/12/16/helping-english-learners-break-through-language-plateaus.html?qs=pillars

The original article, by Wendi Pillars
Moses is a charmer. He wears a perma-smile to match his unflappable sense of humor, is a smooth talker, and a great sport with adults. He speaks English colloquially with absolute savviness, much to the chagrin of many of his teachers, since much of his conversational energy is directed at friends, girls, and racking up cool points as he aims for social capital.
However, give him a diagram to label, a writing assignment to complete, a reading passage to summarize, and vocabulary to memorize, and it’s readily apparent that his social language savvy does not equate to sophisticated academic language proficiency.
At 16, he is considered a long-term English-language learner (LTEL), although he has lived in the United States since he was 1 year old. LTELs are students who have been classified as English-language learners (ELLs) for more than six years, are verbally bilingual, are below grade-level in reading and writing, and are at high-risk for dropping out. Although there is no national data on LTELs, a high percentage of our secondary schools’ ELLs is considered long-term, with a myriad of literacy needs, including mitigating their fossilized language habits.
Three Areas of Language Proficiency
Academic language is an area teachers must target to help LTELs break through their plateaus. It is worthwhile to note, however, that all learners are technically academic language learners; teaching our content-area discourse patterns, vocabulary, and structures will be “new” language if we aim for our students to speak like historians, scientists, musicians, and other professionals.
When measuring the growth of my English learners’ language proficiency, using the WIDA Performance Definitions and rubrics for speaking and writing has helped me set goals and refine my focus and expectations:
Vocabulary usage refers to what many call “academic language” or “accountable talk," the specificity of words for a given content area or context. A critical combination includes precise words (example or experience versus idea) and high-utility words such as "consequence," "issue," or "justification."
Linguistic complexity refers to language production, the amount and quality of both oral and written language, including organization and the use of increasingly complex grammatical structures.
Language control refers to the level of comprehensibility of the language used, the errors made, and the extent to which those errors impact meaning. Control can include rate of speech, grammatical constructs, accent, and choice of vocabulary.
Let’s look at some ideas to address each of these performance areas, but notice, their use must be interwoven with purpose into conversations and opportunities to co-construct knowledge. Assessing growth in these areas requires authentic use, within academic conversation.
1. Vocabulary Usage
• When determining key vocabulary, divide words into content and technical terms, by word parts, and general academic processes we may take for granted. High-utility words are those used for instructions or prompts that you sense may negate a student’s understanding when it’s really the question he cannot understand (i.e., describe, define, identify, manipulate, analyze, complete). (Check out learning and memory specialist Marilee Sprenger’s 55 critical words, her 10-Minute Vocabulary, or the Institute of Education Sciences' strategies on developing ELLs' academic vocabulary.)
• Model how words are used within sentence structures, especially common collocations, then maintain explicit expectations until students can produce the expected level independently. Collocations are words commonly used together in English, but can be difficult to translate, such as “catch a cold” or “catch someone’s eye,” phrasal verbs like “dress up,” or idioms like “pay an arm and a leg.”
• Do your students a favor and teach them about code-switching or linguistic register, or how to adapt their use of language to conform to the standards in any given professional or social situation. To demonstrate how audience impacts both oral and written language, have them “text” what they learned to a friend, create a lesson about it for kindergartners, and then write a summary for the principal’s eyes. This lends credence to their own register, while highlighting the routine code-switching we do daily. Academic language is a more formal register which can provide them with intellectual and linguistic power.
• Highlight affixes, root words, and cognates within texts, display them on word walls, use in discussions, and create expectations of their use to enhance students' metalinguistic awareness. Puns, wordplay, and words that have multiple meanings are also fun tools for boosting intellectual curiosity.
2. Linguistic Complexity
• Reading and writing must be combined with explicit practice in listening along with various oral opportunities to use new vocabulary and increasingly complex grammar. Provide experiences for students to share ideas, co-construct new knowledge, and use vocabulary to communicate big ideas and deeper thinking rather than filling in blanks. Plus, if they can say it, you can be sure it helps them write it.
• Using conversation skills not only helps clarify ideas, but also helps develop an understanding of grammar and word combinations. Students develop conversational pragmatics, those hidden social norms of conversation including turn-taking, respecting physical space, picking up on paralinguistic cues, and appropriate ways to agree, disagree, and build upon each other’s thoughts, in a variety of realistic situations.
• I’ve learned the hard way that rich contexts are imperative for students to want to negotiate meaning, think critically, and co-construct meaningful ideas during partner or group interactions. Provide information gaps, jigsaw readings, and provocative essential questions, because we want students to understand that conversations are multi-sided, a tool for learning, and vital for navigating larger tasks. Monitor structured partner interactions in every lesson, using them as formative assessments, with consistent expectations of precise language and grammar usage.
3. Language Control
• Using strategic sentence frames helps develop more complex student interactions, jump-starts thinking, models correct use of new vocabulary, and provides specific grammatical practice. When frames aren’t enough, model again and provide word banks with vocabulary phrases to extend responses (See teacher educator Kate Kinsella’s resources for more on this.)
• Bring attention to differences between written and spoken discourse and common usage in different content areas, such as the use of passive tense in history and science (“it was written”) and nominalization where verbs or adjectives become noun forms (“they destroyed it” versus “resulted in the destruction of”).
Students like Moses need appropriate language targets with multiple and wide-ranging opportunities to use language to demonstrate their understanding and knowledge. School is the only place many of our students are likely to hear, use, or produce academic language, and to learn how context brings meaning to language.
When we use language, we make choices based on connections and power relationships with others, formal versus informal needs, and the intended outcome of the interaction. It’s worth our time to explain this to students, and to explain further that societal assumptions are made based upon the choices we make with our word usage, not our knowledge alone. It is our role to model academic language use when we speak and write, and to ensure that above all else, all students are actively participating and producing purposeful language each and every day. What can you tweak so this happens in your lessons tomorrow?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Empire strikes back: Testing all the time

Sent to the Washington Post, Dec. 20, 2016

As Lois Guisbond suggests (The Answer Sheet, 12/19/16), the opt-out movement's effort to reduce testing seemed to work. Responding to parental pressure, President Obama recommended a decrease in standardized testing. But as bloggers Peggy Robertson, Morna McDermott, and Emily Talmage warned us over a year ago, the Empire was already poised to strike back.

Three days after the president's speech  (Oct. 24, 2015), the National Governors Association (NGA) issued a paper strongly supporting Competency-Based Education (CBE) (or "computer-based adaptive assessment"), a radical and expensive innovation that replaces regular instruction with online "modules" that students work through independently and then are tested on.

The NGA shrugged off the fact that research is lacking: "it includes only a few rigorous evaluations and analyses …" (NGA report, p. 6): The new education law, the "Every Student Succeeds Act." announced grants for "innovative assessments,"  explicitly mentioning Competency-Based Education.

CBE will dominate the curriculum, and CBE tests will be the basis for student, teacher, and school evaluation, transferring the responsibility of education to distant strangers who design computer programs. President Obama's call for a limit on standardized testing may have been a convenient first step toward something much worse than end-of-the-year testing: testing all the time.

Stephen Krashen

Sources:
Original article: Strauss, V.  The new standardized testing craze to hit public schools  (The Answer Sheet).
 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/12/19/the-new-standardized-testing-craze-to-hit-public-schools/?utm_term=.81b598af3e72
Bloggers:
Morna McDermott, Reading between the lines. http://educationalchemy.com/2015/10/25/reading-between-the-lines-obamas-testing-action-plan/)
Peggy Robertson, Opt-out revolution, the next wave.  http://www.pegwithpen.com/2015/10/opt-out-revolution-next-wave.html
Talmage, E. 2015. What is proficiency-based learning? http://emilytalmage.com/2015/04/26/save-maine-schools/
National Governors Association report: Laine, R., Cohen, M., Nielson, K. and Palmer, I. 2015. Expanding Student Success: A Primer on Competency-Based Education from Kindergarten Through Higher Education. Washington, D.C.: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, October 27, 2015.
New education law (Every Student Succeeds Act): (https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/1177/text) see sections 1201, 1204).



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

What about classic comics?

Comment published in NY Times comments section on "Forget ‘Pat the Bunny.’ My Child Is Reading Hemingway" (Dec. 18, 2016).  http://tinyurl.com/jlgjuty

Stephen Krashen

 

Several of those who have commented on this article point out that classic comics tried to do something similar to re-casted classics for tots: Make classics more comprehensible to younger readers.  
There is evidence that they were not very popular with children.
Wayne (1954) asked 297 seventh-grade students to indicate which comic types they preferred; each student was asked to choose four from a list of 15. Classic comics ranked ninth out of 15.
When are asked which comics they prefer, without a list to choose from, class comics are never mentioned (for a review of these studies, seeWitty and Sizemore 1954).
Michael Dirda shares his enthusiasm for comic books, but tells us “I never really cottoned to the earnest and didactic ‘classic comics’ … Who would pick up something called The Cloister and the Hearth ….?” (Dirda, 2003, p. 56).
Some Classics Illustrated comics are still appearing: The Last of the Mohicans was published in July 2016.  It was not listed, nor were any other classics, in the November 2016 list of the 371 best-selling comic books in the US (http://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales/2016/2016-11.html).


Dirda, M. 2003. An open book. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.
Wayne, R. 1954. Survey of interest in comic books. School Activities 25: 244.
Witty, P., and R. Sizemore. 1955. Reading the comics: A summary of studies and an evaluation, III. Elementary English 32: 109-114.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Does Latin study help with the study of other Romance languages? Maybe. but is it efficient?


Stephen Krashen, December 2016  DRAFT

The goal of this paper is not to discourage the study of Latin. It is, rather, part of an effort to distinguish valid reasons for being interested in Latin from bogus reasons.

There is some evidence supporting the idea that the study of Latin helps with the subsequent study of Romance languages, but the effect appears to be small and temporary.  I divide the research into three categories:

NO DIFFERENCE OR NEGATIVE EFFECT

Starch (1915) found very little difference in first-year French grades, freshman English grades, and overall grades in modern languages in college between those who studied Latin and those who studied German in high school. 
Haag and Stern (2003) found that students of Spanish with previous French study made fewer errors in translating from their first language (German) into Spanish than those who had previously studied an equivalent amount of Latin.

SMALL EFFECT

Kirby (1923) found low correlations between years of high school Latin study and first semester college grades in French (r = .22, meaning that knowing a student's high school grade in Latin provides about 5% of the information needed to predict the student's French grade). The relationship to second semester French grades was about the same (r = .25). (1)

TEMPORARY EFFECT

In agreement with Kirby, Henman (1924; cited in Jordan, 1942, p. 290) found a small advantage for those who had studied Latin for French vocabulary and grammar, but this small advantage was not present at the end of the second year. 
Swift (cited in Starch, 1930; pp. 230-231) studied only the impact of previous Latin study on Spanish class performance in high school for 15 weeks. Swift found that the impact was obvious on weekly tests given the first week, but by the 15th week, the no-Latin students had made up about 2/3 of the difference.

Conclusions

The studies reviewed here lead to the conclusion that Latin study cannot be justified because it helps with other Romance languages. The impact is small and wears off. 

I suspect that experience with any other Romance language will help with another, but exposure to the desired target language itself will be even more useful. If you want to acquire French,  the most efficient path is to take a good French class or find other sources of comprehensible input in French, not Latin or Spanish (2).

NOTES:

1. Cole (1924) also reported modest correlations betwen years of high school Latin study and first and second semester French grades in college (r = .36), and beetween years of Latin study in high school and first and second semester Spanish grades in college (r = .24).  in all Cole's analyses, the effect of measured IQ was controlled. Cole's sample, however, did not represent a fair test of the effect of Latin, since nearly all Frency stdents had two years or more of Latin in high school and all Spanish students had at least two years of Latin.  This incomplete distrbution may have attenuated the actual correlation.

2. It needs to be pointed out that in all the studies cited here, both Latin and other Romance languages, were taught using traditional methods.  There is no research I know of examining the effect of Latin taught with a compehension-based approach on other languages taught with traditional or comprehension-based approaches.

References:

Cole, L.E. 1924. Latin as a preparatin for French and Spanish.  School and Society 29 (491): 618-622.
Haag, L., & E. Stern. 2003. In search of the benefits of learning Latin. Journal Of Educational Psychology, 95(1): 174-178.

Jordan, M. 1942.  Educational Psychology New York: Holt. Third Edition
Kirby, T. 1923.  Latin as a preparation for French. School and Society 18: 563-569.
Starch, D. 1915. Some experimental data on the value of studying foreign languages. School Review 23: 697-703.
Starch, D. 1930. Educational Psychology. New York: Macmillan.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Is the study of Latin an English vocabulary enhancer?

Stephen Krashen  DRAFT
December, 2016


There are excellent reasons for the study of Latin in schools, including the rich culture, literature,  and history of Rome,   as well as the opportunity to see the results of language change and borrowing, and the chance to study the litergical use of language.

But it is not clear that improving students' English vocabulary is a good reasons for studying Latin.  Studies done over the last century confirm that students who study Latin do better on tests of English vocabulary (1, 2).  The effect, however, may be swamped by another, far more efficient way of building vocabulary.

In every study of the impact of Latin, the tests of English vocabulary were given soon after Latin study ended, typically at the end of the academic year. There are no studies confirming the impact of Latin study in school on adult vocabulary later in life. In fact, there is reason to suspect that this impact may not exist for dedicated readers or be very weak.

There is strong evidence that self-selected reading for pleasure is a powerful predictor of adult vocabulary, no matter when it is done during the lifespan (up to age 42 that is; Sullivan and Brown  2014): Reading for pleasure, especially fiction, is a significant predictor of adult vocabulary size, and there is no critical age – more reading as an adult is strongly related to vocabulary size, controlling for earlier reading.

In other words, older readers who continue to read for pleasure and interest continue to increase their vocabularies. There are no studies I know of directly comparing the long-term effect of Latin study in school on vocabulary with the development of a reading habit.  (But see appendix 1.)

What needs to be investigated: Does Latin study in school have  a positive impact on adult vocabulary size independent of pleasure reading?  In other words, given two equally well-read adults, one who has studied Latin and one who has not not, will the former Latin student have a larger vocabulary?  My prediction is that the amount of reading will predict vocabulary size, but that Latin study will make no significant additional contribution.   

I am suggesting, in other words, that the power of reading alone is so strong that Latin study will make little difference.  This is, of course, only a prediction that needs to be confirmed by research, but if it is true, the argument that Latin is a vocabulary enhancer is only valid in the short run.

Appendix 1
Starch (1930) presents data that supports the prediction that the effect of Latin study wears off, but only compares high school juniors and college students, the sample is small, and no significance testing was done. Nevertheless, the trend is clear: University students have larger vocabulary test scores than high school students, and the "Latin advantage" is smaller for them (2% versus 4.5%).  In fact, university students with no Latin did better than high schools who had Latin.


level
n
Latin
percent
University
139
yes
60.9
University
50
no
58.9
HS junior
14
yes
54.7
HS junior
32
no
50.2
From Starch, 1930, table 61.

Notes.

1: The earliest studies I could find were Harris (1915) and Otis (1922). Some additional details about the studies:  Bassman and Ironsmith (1984) claim that Latin study resulted in "significantly greater gains in vocabulary than did the control students" (p. 41). But a close look at the data shows that the control students made no gain at all over the academic year, and the gain for the Latin students was about a normal year's growth (effect size = .31 on the Vocabulary Portion of Stanford Achievement Test).

In some studies, vocabulary tests contained only words of Latin origin (e.g.  Otis, 1922) and in some studies the list was not restricted, but Latin origin  words make up about half of English vocabulary (Fromchuck, 1984; Barber, 1985).

2. Could the Latin advantage be due to pre-existing differences between those who take Latin and those who do not?  If this were the case, we would expect that  those taking Latin as an elective would score better on English vocabulary tests than those who did not on tests given before Latin instruction begins.. There is evidence that this is true (Carr, 1921; Wilcox, 1917), but it was also the case that the gap between the groups increased with Latin study (Carr, 1921; Wilcox, 1917). 

Also, when students are matched for initial competence, some researchers report that Latin still has a positive effect on vocabulary test scoress (Carr, 1919;  Perkins, 1914, who matched for English and foreign language grades; Paroughian, 1942, matched for IQ).

In contrast, Douglass and Kittelson (1935) matched students for SES, years of foreign language study, and English grades, and reported that Latin made only a small, but positive difference on an English vocabulary test, and Pond (1938), who also matched students on a variety of factors, reported similar results.

In summary, Latin students could indeed have an initial advantage, but Latin study still appears to have a positive effect on scores of English vocabulary tests.

3: It has been argued that the Latin advantage comes from knowledge of Latin roots and affixes. But the effect of context on comprehension (clues to meaning outside the word) may be more powerful than knowledge of  roots and suffixes (clues to meaning inside the word).
Even if knowledge of roots and affixes are of significant help to young readers, it is likely that well-read adults who have never studied Latin will have acquired much of  this knowledge through reading.
Test yourself: If you have never studied Latin, how many of these roots and suffixes do you know, without having studied them formally?  http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0907036.html
My guess is that you have acquired the meaning of least half of them.

References.

Bassman, M. and Ironsmith, M. 1984. An experimental FLES program in Latin. ADFL Bulletin 14, 39-41/

Barber, G. 1986.  Latin as a practical study. The Classical Journal 81, 158-60.

W. L. Carr, W. L. 1919. English vocabulary of high school freshmen. Classical Journal 15:20-29.
Douglass, H. and Kittelson, C. 1935. The transfer of training in high school Latin to English grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. Journal of Experimental Education 4(1): 26-33

Fromchuck, A. 1984. The measurable benefits of teaching English through Latin in elementary School. Classical World 78: 25-29.

Harris, J. 1915. A study in the relation of Latin to English composition. School and Society 2: 251-52.
Otis, A. 1922. The relation of Latin to the study of English vocabulary and composition.  School Review 30: 45-50.
Parounagian, M. 1942. The Portland derivatives test. Classical Outlook, 19: 84-95.
Perkins, A, 1914, Latin as a vocational study in the commercial course. Classical Journal 10: 716.
Pond F. 1938. Influence of the study of Latin on word knowledge. The School Review, 46: 611-618
Starch, D. 1915. Some experimental data on the value of studying foreign languages. School Review 23: 697-703.
Starch, D. 1923. Educational Psychology. New York: MacMillan.
Sullivan, A. & Brown, M. (2014). Vocabulary from Adolescence to Middle Age.
 London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Institute of Education, University of London.
Wilcox, M. 1917. Does the study of high-school Latin improve high-school English? School and Society, 6 (132): 58-60.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Don't trust Ed Trust when they talk about overoming povery


Don't trust Ed Trust. Substance 27 (6): 3. 2002.
Stephen Krashen
The powerful impact of poverty on literacy development has been well documented. Children of poverty, in addition to the obvious problems they face, have very little access to reading material ; they have fewer books in the home, inferior public libraries, inferior school libraries,and inferior classroom libraries, (e.g. Duke, 2000; Neuman and Celano, 2001). This means, of course, that they have fewer opportunities to read, and therefore make less progress in developing literacy.
The recent report from Educational Trust West (Ali and Jerald, 2001) appears, at first glance, to show that a significant number of children in poverty have overcome this problem. The report claimed to find 3,592 schools in the US that were "high- performing-high poverty" schools. In California alone, there were 355 high- performing-high poverty school. This result was considered sufficient to "dispel the myth" about the relationship between poverty and educational achievement, and was followed by newspaper articles proclaiming that these high-scoring schools can "offer a lesson" (New York Times, December 17, 2001; Los Angeles Daily News, December 16, 2001).
The Ed Trust Report deserves another look. It has serious flaws, and, in fact, shows exactly the opposite of what it says it shows.
Very few schools qualify. The number of schools classified as high-poverty high- scoring represents about 4% of the nation and state school population. Moreover, a closer look shrinks even this number to considerably. In fact, it shrinks it to nearly zero.
It is easy to qualify as high-scoring. A high-performing school was defined as one in which students in ANY grade scored in the upper third of the schools in its own state in EITHER math or reading. Thus, a good performance by one grade level (in some schools only one classroom) on one test can qualify a school as "high performing."
Consider the case of California. Of the 355 "high-scoring" schools in California, only 134 were high-scoring in reading. There are 8761 schools in California. This means that about 1.5% qualify as "high-flying schools." Of these 134, 83 managed to qualify because of children in only one grade level! This could be due to the performance of a few students in one classroom, perhaps even those from higher- income families (see below). We are now down to 51 schools, about half of one percent.
Scores can be based on students NOT considered high poverty. Ed Trust may claim that a grade in a high poverty school reached the upper 1/3, but not all the children at that grade level were high poverty. Consider the case of fourth graders at the Language Academy, a (magnet) school in San Diego. Academy fourth graders scored in the upper 1/3 of the state in reading, averaging 61. But the subset of economically disadvantaged children (n = 27) scored 42, while the advantaged children (n = 36) averaged 73. Fourth graders at Language Academy were classified as high scoring high poverty not because of the scores of its disadvantaged children but because of the scores of its advantaged children. Ed Trust does not present this kind of a breakdown of scores.
Ed Trust used a low standard for classification as "high poverty." A high- poverty school was defined as one in which at least 50% of the students were from low-income families. The California average is 46%.
The report has numerous inaccuracies. For California, several schools listed as high-poverty were not, and in many cases grade levels Ed Trust said were high scoring were not. The alternative analysis below presents details, as well as confirming that the number of "high-poverty high-scoring schools" is very very small.
An alternative analysis
If we define truly exceptional schools as those with at least three grade levels scoring in the upper one-third in reading, we are down to 20 schools in California. Let's take a closer look at the 20: In two cases, the schools did not qualify as high- poverty, even according to the very modest standard set by Ed Trust.1 For the other 18, a look at SAT9 scores shows that only four of the schools actually had all three classes in the upper one-third in reading, based on California's standards, and none qualified as a high-scoring school using national standards. Of the four that qualified in California, one was a magnet school. The high-scoring classes in the three other schools had a total of 391 children. In one, the Steinbeck school, high scorers in two grades (3 and 6) scored much lower on the language portion of the SAT9 (36 and 30).2
Poverty has a powerful effect
The Ed Trust report is actually a stunning confirmation of the overwhelming effect of poverty. Even with a very loose definition of high performance, few schools perform in the upper one-third and a careful look at one state reveals that even fewer qualify. California has about five million children in school. Ed Trust claimed that about 230,000 were in high-poverty high-scoring schools for reading. According to this analysis, the real figure is less than 400. It is extremely difficult to "defy the odds." Poverty has a powerful effect on educational attainment.
Notes
  1. The Raoul Wallenberg school reported only 41.5% and Richmond only 36.4% of their students on free or reduced price lunch. Wheatland Union had 50.5% and Pescadero had 50.8% on free and reduced lunch. These were included as "high-poverty" schools.
  2. It is a lot easier to place in the upper 1/3 in California than in the most other states; California ranks at the bottom in reading among states in the USA. State averages are really low in grade 2 (30th percentile), 9 (33rd), 10 (33rd) and 11 (37th). The fifth, sixth and eighth grade CA average is 43. All are under the national average of 50.
    Even using this lower standard, only four schools in California had three grade levels that actually scored in the upper 1/3 for reading: Borrego Springs (81 children), Bravo Magnet (about 1000 children), Steinbeck (193 children) and Kernville (117). Three out of four grades nominated by Ed Trust actually qualified at Steinbeck and Kernville. For Kernville, grades 4, 5 and 6 met the standard, but there were few disadvantaged children in grade 5.
    Ten of the 18 schools had no grade levels meeting the California standard for the upper 1/3: Costano, Cottonwood, Florence, Happy Camp High, Hayfork High, Kernville, Muir, Surprise Valley, Surprise Valley High, Van Duzen.
    In five schools, results were mixed: At Clairemont, grades 9 and 10 qualified, but grade 11 did not. For the Language Academy, grades 3 and 4 qualified, but not the subset of disadvantaged children. Grade 7 did not. For Pescadero, two of the three grades did not qualify. Grade 5 did, but not the subset of disadvantaged children. For Perry: grade 3 qualified but not grades 5 and 6. At Wheatland, grade 9 qualified, but not the subset of disadvantaged children. Grade 10 qualified but grade 11 did not.
    (California scores were calculated from mean scores (percentile ranks) provided by the State of California Department of Education website, and converting to NCE's.)
    Here are SAT9 scores for those grades in "high-poverty" schools categorized as achieving in the upper 1/3.
1) Borrego Springs; grade 9 = 60; grade 10 = 44; grade 11 = 46; only nine disadvantaged
students were tested in grade 9
2) Bravo Magnet: grade 9 = 43 (493); grade 10 = 43 (389); grade 11 = 36 (400); for disadvantaged students only, grade 9 = 44 (434); grade 10= 43 (314); grade 11 = 34 (320).
3) Clairemont; grade 9 = 43 (493); grade 43 (389) ;grade 11 = 36 (400). For disadvantaged students, grade 9 = 44 (434); grade 10 = 43 (314); grade 11 = 34 (320).
4) Costano; grade 3 = 60 (37); grade 4 = 41 (72); grade 7 = 39 (49); for disadvantaged children only, grade 3 = 63 (40); grade 4 = 39 (41); grade 7 = 30 (34). Note that this school reported more disadvantaged children tested than total children tested for grade 3.
5) Cottonwood; grade 3 = 42 (28); grade 5 = 33 (24); grade 7 = 41 (19); for disadvantaged children only, grade 3 = 23 (19); grade 5 = 43 (15); grade 7, no score reported, 10 tested.
6) Florence; grade 3 = 39 (26); grade 4 = 30 (23), grade 5 = 31 (23), grade 6 = 39 (13); for disadvantaged only, grade 3 = 33 (16); grade 4 = 79 (21); grade 5 = 33 (13); grade 6 = 61 (12). Note that the grade 4 and grade 6 scores are mathematically impossible.
7) Happy Camp High; grade 9 = 37 (24); grade 10 = 34 (33); grade 11 = 33 (19). All students were disadvantaged.
8) Hayfork High; grade 9 = 23 (43 students tested); grade 10 = 41 (36 tested); grade 11 = 43 (33 tested); for disadvantaged students only; grade 9 = 30 (23); grade 10 = 22 (23); grade 11 = 24 (32)
9) Kernville; grade 3 = 37 (28 students tested); grade 4 = 70 (31 tested); grade 5 = 73 (23); grade 6 = 63 (30 tested); for disadvantaged students only, grade 3 = 23 (13 tested); grade 4 = 66 (13 tested); grade 5 = no score given, 10 tested; grade 6 = 60 (16)
10) Language Academy (San Diego): grade 3 = 62 (34); grade 4 = 61 (63); grade 7 = 43 (21); for disadvantaged children only: grade 3 = 34 (44); grade 4 = 42 (27); grade 7 = 42 (13) 11) Muir; grade 4 = 43 (26); grade 8 = 43 (34); grade 11, not reported, only ten students tested. For disadvantaged children only, grade 4 = 37 (130; grade 8 = 41 (23); no scores reported for grade 11, only 3 children tested.
12) Pescadero: This school has 50.8% disadvantaged children. grade 3 = 20 (39 students tested); grade 4 = 37 (28 tested); grade 5 = 60 (21 tested); disadvantaged only, grade 3 = no scores given, 9 tested; grade 4 = no scores given, 3 tested; grade 5 = 12 (23 tested).
13) Perry: grade 3 = 68 (31); grade 4 = 39 (43); grade 5 = 43 (43); grade 6 = 43 (32); for disadvantage children only, grade 3 = 74 (33), grade 4 = 60 (33); grade 5 = 43 (29); grade 6 = 30 (31).
14) Steinbeck; grade 3 = 69 (34), grade 4 = 61 (60); grade 5 = 32 (30), grade 6 = 67 (63). All children were disadvantaged.
15) Surprise Valley; grade 4 = 38 (14); grade 7 = 39 (16), grade 8 = 33 (16). No scores reported for disadvantaged children. Only 9 tested in grade 4, 3 tested in grade 7, 10 tested in grade 8.
16) Surprise Valley High School; grade 9 = 37 (13); grade 10 = 30 (14), no scores reported for grade 11, only 10 students tested. No scores reported for disadvantaged students; grade 9 had 7, grade 10 had 6 and grade 11 had 2.
17) Van Duzen; grade 4 = 44 (13); grade 5 = 38 (17); grade 8 = 30 (11); no scores reported for disadvantage children. Ten tested in grades 4,5 and 3 in grade 8.
18) Wheatland Union High School; grade 9 = 44 (179); grade 10 = 40 (133); grade 11 = 42 (147); for disadvantaged children, grade 9 = 33 (61); grade 10 = 40 (32); grade 11 = 36 (36)

Acknowledgment: My thanks to Gerald Coles for numerous insights and suggestions.
References
Ali, R. and Jerald, C. 2001. Dispelling the Myth in California: Preliminary Findings from a State and Nationwide Analysis of "High-Flying" Schools. The Education Trust - West.
Neuman, S. and Celano, D. 2001. Access to print in low-income and middle- income communities. Reading Research Quarterly 36(1): 8-26.
Duke, N. 2000. For the rich it's richer: Print experiences and environments offered to children in very low- and very high-socioeconomic status first-grade classrooms.American Educational Research Journal 37(2): 441-478.
Los Angeles Daily News. 2001. No more excuses. Dec. 16, 2001
New York Times. 2001. School defies the odds and offers a lesson. Dec. 17, 2001