Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Have you been taught the skills necessary to succeed?

The No. 1 Skill Teens Need for College
When it comes to academic collegiate success there is one skill more than any other that separates the A students from the C students: the ability to handle complex reading.
And they can't wait until they are college freshmen to learn how to do this.
The time to learn it is in high school, and alarmingly, most states do not require complex reading comprehension instruction at the high school level nor do they have any standards for high school reading achievement, The Associated Press reports of a new study from ACT, the nonprofit company that publishes one of the two tests required for college entrance. Instead, reading is considered a subject for elementary school and is rarely taught in later grades.
What makes an article or book complex to read? Complex reading is characterized by an elaborate organization where the messages are often implicit rather than overt. The interaction between ideas or characters may be subtle instead of obvious. Most of all, the vocabulary is demanding and intricate, notes AP.
How many college-bound high school students can read complex works? Of the
1.2 million high school seniors who took the ACT in 2005, only 51 percent scored high enough to show they were ready to handle first year college-level reading requirements. And this a concern not only to colleges, but also to employers.
What can be done? These aren't easy solutions, but the ACT insists that high school reading standards must be revised in core subjects, and struggling readers need to get help earlier in their education. Also, more teachers need to be trained in how to teach reading within their subject matter. That is, a chemistry teacher must also learn to teach reading as it relates to science


Blogger Marie P said...

Reading is very important to education today and it is getting harder to teach at the level that is necessary to know in college. English classes in High School are really the only chance we get to understand difficult reading. I think that Shakespeare is a great example of this. When it comes to more textual reading is where school systems fail to rise up to the level needed. I think that there should be time set aside in Social Studies, Math, and Science earlier on in learning for students to start to find ways to apprehend more complex materials. There are a lot of summer educational programs for younger students to learn special speed reading and comprehension skills at an early age that many children can get involved in. I think all we need is more of a push for higher education in reading comprehension.

September 12, 2006 1:49 PM  
Blogger Kurt W. said...

Reading is an extremely complex topic, mainly because it is just plain hard to teach. I think it does need to be more extensively tought however. Complex reading is key in every aspect of future life and will be required no matter what employer people choose. Bottom Line: Reading needs to be taught better.

Hey, a little off topic, but what score qualifies a student to have the ability to handle complex reading?

September 12, 2006 3:06 PM  
Blogger sonnyw said...

FACT-not everyone enjoys reading. This is the first obstacle in reading and comprehending complex material. Some people learn best with images, maybe hands-on activity, but detest reading. We could shovel more responsibility on parents by mandating parent-child reading sessions in early childhood, but a kid's learning style may be determined by genetics more than anything. It's possible that daily read-a-thons with your kid won't do a thing to change their disdain for reading. However, I think a majority of growing kids would benefit, at least somewhat, from regular exposure to basic literature in their homes.

Once kids enter grade school, reading should be made as enjoyable as possible. Don't focus on summarizing books (please, no book reports). Instead, making meaningful, relevant connections between students and characters should be the priority. I find that open discussion (like we do on the blog) brings out the best ideas people have. Student participation in said discussion may be minimal at first; hopefully with repetition the kids will be open up. By high school, kids would be used to the format and (fingers crossed) participate eagerly. Also, the more relevant the material is to the students lives, the greater chance that they'll enjoy it.

Please note that I am not a teacher. Looking back on my words, I think they're overly-idealistic. Teaching is no doubt harder than I can imagine. If you read this and think, "How do I know what be relevant to students?" just take my words with a few grains of salt. This is indeed a tough question with no clear answer.

September 12, 2006 6:54 PM  
Blogger Kyle G said...

It is unfortunate that not many people read in this time period. Now that it is easier to get information from TV and videos, as well as the internet, people don't pick up books just to read anymore. Instead they would rather go see a good movie or watch their favorite Tv show. I know it has and is happening to me, I read one book over the summer, out of four or five that I wanted to read. Also, with movies and TV it is harder to pay attention to what we read, and thus less enjoyable. I hope to read more books and watch less TV, there are still quite a few, and there are more adding to the list every now and then. I think that reading isn't just essential to education or college, but rather to life, not only do we learn more, but we also learn to relax and enjoy our life.

September 12, 2006 10:08 PM  
Blogger chrisg said...

I think that I have been educated pretty well about how to read in different subjects. I have never been very good at reading, but the teachers that I have had have shown me how to become more efficient. I think that this was necessary in education, to have the ability to read to help increase understanding in all subjects. I have a feeling that the ability to read at this deeper level tends to be more about the application to more than just the actual book, and less about the ability to read it. I agree that teachers need to teach this part of the reading, and less about the basics. This is what I think has been the reason for my ability to comprehend the reading.

September 13, 2006 3:50 PM  
Blogger levik said...

I believe that students today have not established a good reading base. Many kids grow up with reading not being a priority. I know that early on in my education I had to read a lot and talk about it in classes and at home. I feel that that gave me a good base to not fall behind the reading level of my classmates. Year after year I could understand the books of increasing levels of difficulty. A lot of the "blame" could be placed on parents who do not take the time to emphasize reading or even education to their kids. I am not saying that kids will like to read if parents do this, but they will have the ability to read at a high level. I will be the first to say I do not enjoy reading, but I can read and comprehend. When you get people who do not choose to read and also do not have the ability, you have a bad combination. As far as teaching kids to read in the classroom, I believe it would be helpful to read books that relate more to kids' lives. If a preschooler is forced to read Hamlet, the chances of that kid enjoying reading are slim. And the same goes for all levels of education. This is a tough question to answer but overall I think parents could do more.

September 13, 2006 9:12 PM  
Blogger Scott M said...

I think that I am prepared to be in college english calsses because of all of the alis work we had to do last year. That really made me realize how much work goes into writing a good analysis of a book. I liked how for the third book we were not forced to annotate because that gave us the choice of whether we needed to annotate or not and that made me realize how important that really is. I also think the teachers giving us the topic questions helped because that gave us an idea of how deep we need to be able to go to write a good paper. One thing that I think I will struggle with is having to read the books in a short amount of time. The good thing about alis is that we had a good amount of time to read them and since speed is not one of my strengths in reading I think I might struggle with that. I also think I might struggle having to read two books at once. That depends on if one is in class and the other is outside of class but I doubt that will be the case. So overall I think I am pretty well prepared for the challenges I will face next year.

September 14, 2006 8:58 AM  
Blogger ashleyg said...

I agree with scott on the fact that alis was a good preparation tool for college. As much as I hated it, it was a good thing that we did it. However, reading that post scared me. How am I to know that I don't fall into that category of being unprepared. I think high schools students are very lazy and only hurting themselves when they slack off when reading in class novels. Most english classes have great lesson plans on novels, and the students are only hurting themselves when they just follow along and not read it for themselves and comprehend what the book is about.

September 14, 2006 2:37 PM  
Blogger stephm said...

I think that it's hard to say whether we will be ready for college. It depends on the professor, the college, and the courses. Arapahoe has prepared me the best that it possibly could. I feel like I can understand books that I read on my own, and if I had to, I could write a paper about an idea that I go from it. However, I will really miss the classroom discussions and seeing what others come up with. The discussions help spin our arguments in another direction. If I have friends that I can have serious discussions with about books that we are reading in class, then I will succeed in college.

September 14, 2006 8:09 PM  
Blogger Haley C said...

I agree with scott. I think that reading is hard and not enjoyable for most kids and when they are made to explain their book to the entire class it's hard because some kids will get embarresed because they are not good readersand don't understand what they are reading.

I agree with most of you saying that alis helped bring reading back for me. Im one of those people that hate reading the books I have to read unless i pick it. I think it's going to be a good tool in college to look back and remember what we did and apply that to whatever we are doing.

September 14, 2006 8:51 PM  
Blogger jeffg said...

I find these generalizations to be very frustrating. I believe that we all know how tough the ACT is, not necessarily because of the difficulty of the questions, but more because it is hard to take a standardized test for four hours. Although this fact doesn't raise the percentage of the test scores proving kids ready for college English, it does give an excuse for the poor percentages. Also, I would like to know what kids grades are in their college English classes freshmen year. Perhaps that would be more successful and necessary in proving these ideas that people are ready for college English classes. Most people usually perform at a higher standard when a higher standard or difficulty level is presented to them. So, maybe kids ACT scores are low because they have low levels of expectations, however, when they reach college English, they perhaps thrive on the pressure and difficulty level.

September 14, 2006 9:42 PM  
Blogger EmilyW said...

I think it's disappointing that the standard of reading is not up to the collegiate level. I think it's an extremely important tool not just meant for English class. It applies to everything we do whether it's understanding a job application, or reading what's happening in the world, or just enjoying a book. If someone is having a problem with reading it can be caught and fixed at an early age if others are willing to put the extra effort into it.

September 14, 2006 10:16 PM  
Blogger Matt W said...

I actually have to agree with the findings of the ACT. In an age where alternate sources of information (beyond books) exist, it is easy to see why such a trend would become more and more apparent. No longer do kids have to read and, most importantly, comprehend a story's plot or characters. On television, we are "spoon fed" every element of the plot, and all needed details regarding characters. In both TV and Movies, originality is in a rut. Very few movies today are not remakes of previously portrayed plots and characters, so few things anymore require a person to draw their own conclusions or seek out hidden elements to a plot. This "spoon fed" method results in a generation that finds difficulty in thinking analytically, or originally. As a member of this generation, I too fall under its labels and stereotypes. I must admit that drawing original, analytical conclusions from a complex plot is surprisingly challenging. I often struggle to do so, and am at a disadvantage compared to others who may have grown up in a reading based learning environment. Is this a downfall, or just simply the signs of changing times regarding communication? What do you think?

September 14, 2006 10:50 PM  
Blogger DavidV said...

Although complex reading is clearly a skill that is needed for college, i disagree with the majority here, i dont feel that reading needs to be taught more extensively in high school. Like sonny said, alot of people "detest" reading, for reasons beyond "i just dont like it" It's something that each individual does due to a certain liking. If someone hates reading, then they wont read, but the fact of like or dislike does not neccesarily have a and affect on that individuals abilty to comprehend the materials in a reading. Trying to cram more extensive, complex readings into a young student who dislikes reading, is not going to be productive.

To be honest i dont really know what I'm trying to say... Ya reading will be important in college, but doing more complex reading at a younger age will not neccesarily affect the students ability to comprhend. I think thats what i was shooting for.

September 14, 2006 11:20 PM  
Blogger Mark C said...

I personally think that this is not a huge problem to worry about. First of all, the ACT testing is one test that cannot completley test your ability to read and understand. It is not accurate. It tests how well you can test, not read. Second, complex reading cannot be taught at a higher level in high school and be successful. Why? This is because you can assign harder reading assignments, however students will not read. Most high school studetns do not actually READ a reading assignment. They skim, maybe pick up a few things, and maybe read spark notes. How do we get high schoolers to read? You can't. They have to read on their own choice. You improve your reading skills by actually reading. So we must choose to read if we want to improve our skills for college.

September 15, 2006 10:32 AM  

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