HOW TO MEET IOWA'S THIRD GRADE READING RETENTION LAW

2-29-16

Greetings, Des Moines Register Carol Hunter, Executive News Director; Lynn Hicks, Engagement/Opinion Editor; Jeff Charis-Carlson, Higher Education Reporter; William Petroski, Politics-statehouse Reporter; Mackenzie Ryan, Education Reporter and all—

This post presents Dr. Sue Atkinson’s superior educator’s response to Professor Carl Smith’s whining column in the 2-25-16 Register.  Please forward it to Carl as he provided no email address in his column.

He is concerned the law to have third grade students reading at grade level, or be retained, is an “unfunded mandate”.  As  professor emeritus at Iowa State University's School of Education he is a typical educrat worried more about money than the kids.  He talked as if the law is a surprise to expect students to read at the 3rd grade level to enter 4th grade.   And he is likely one of many profs in Iowa who have failed to teach teachers the five essential components for teaching reading!

Here is Dr. Sue’s superior response to Carl’s misguided column.  Please note the referenced book explaining how teachers can be trained to bring reading students up to grade level in only 100, 15-minute lessons. 

While I agree that retaining third graders has consequences, what is missed in Carl’s column is any acknowledgment of the systemic failure to effectively teach elementary students to read by the third grade.  It also appears to be a set up to avoid accountability when May 2017 arrives, and Iowa educators have failed utterly to achieve the goal of the law.

·       “The Human Face of Big Data” http://www.pbs.org/program/human-face-big-data/  This link will take you to their web site.  While there are many aspects to this (all involving numbers and mapping them as well as graphing them), roughly twenty minutes into the program Is data clearly showing that young children learn words better when they are within context rather than memorized.  When I did a Google search to get this link directly, I saw that the man behind this has YouTube videos about various aspects to the work, so there are multiple links if you just search using the title. 

·       Iowa’s teacher training programs still use memorization because it is all they know, even interpreting the Common Core accordingly.  The next report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (due this October) will likely show this.  This is an excerpt in an exchange with Brad Niebling at the Department of Education: “This might be an interpretation issue. The Iowa Core does leave room for local interpretation in terms of content specification. In other words, maybe they are deciding to interpret some standards in a particular way that includes sight word instruction beyond Kindergarten. For example, they may be choosing to interpret one of the following components of standard RF.1.3 as requiring sight word instruction:

·       Iowa has chosen to use a phonics program with rules so bad they fail to cover all words, making memorization a necessity in spite of the fact some student learning styles cannot learn this way.  Why the failure to use phonics rules that cover all words, thus making learning more in-depth rather than shallow memorization?  Iowa educators lack any knowledge of the phonics that existed prior to its removal decades ago.

·       The change to SmarterBalance assessment exams had to be made because Iowa’s education system was years away from being able to design tests that first determine a student’s learning style, and then ask questions through applied examples of concepts to determine the level of proficiency.  Iowa education is behind in this because all they know is shallow memorization.

·       The consequences of using shallow memorization result in students failing to learn up to grade level – which has been happening for decades (since concepts were phased out 50-60 years ago) – but rather than a proper assessment of the content and teaching, Iowa educators have chosen the practice we would term social bullying today: they blame the students rather than the system.  Teacher training in Iowa includes all sorts of biased rhetoric about the deficiencies of some demographic groups.  The countries out-educating us regularly assess their concept-based curriculum content and teaching methods to make sure it reaches all learning styles (and they show almost no learning gaps using this process).

http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/PISA-2012-results-US.pdf

Third grade retention shows the systemic failure of the Iowa education system, not of students or their parents, (themselves ‘educated’ in the failed public schools).  But Iowa educators clearly lack the in-depth thought processes to grasp this because they, themselves, are also victims of the flawed system.

In 1955, a book was published titled “Johnny Can’t Read”; twenty-five years later another book was published titled “Johnny Still Can’t Read” – because educators ignored the point of both books and continue to ignore that valuable point today.

A book entitled “Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” by Siegfried Englemann, Phyllis Haddox, and Elaine Bruner (published by Simon & Schuster) explains what went wrong with reading in this country, how to get back on track, and how teachers need to be trained to effectively teach the reading concepts to have students reading up to third-grade level in 100, 15-minute lessons.  Home  schools can do this as well.

If the state’s special pilot program this summer is not using this approach and teaching methods, it is wasting the money donated for this purpose.  It will be another education fix failure. 

THE WASTE OF IOWA SCHOOL FIX FAILURES CONTINUES AND NOW TOTALS AT LEAST $260 BILLION.  Source:  Iowalive 2-29-16  

Carl Smith Would Likely Claim—The Fixes Weren’t Intended To Bring 3rd Grade Readers Up To Grade Level. 

70 YEAR CHART SHOWS 50 YEARS OF IOWA PUBLIC SCHOOL FAILURES

EDUCATION FIXES THAT FAILED WASTED $178  BILLION, AS OF 9-11-09

DESCRIPTION OF EDUCATION FIX FAILURES

ESTIMATED NET, TOTAL WASTE, AS OF 9-11-09.  (BILLIONS)

HIGHER TEACHER PAY

$91.0

STATE AID TO SCHOOLS

$33.0

AEAs

$22.2

SPECIAL EDUCATION

$11.3

NEW MATH

$5.3

PHASES I, II & III TEACHER TRAINING

$5.3

SMALLER CLASS SIZE

$4.4

WHOLE LANGUAGE

$3.1

MANDATORY KINDERGARTEN

$1.4

TEACHER-IN-SERVICE DAYS

$1.1

TOTAL

$178.1

Operating Efficiency Derivation Methods are Posted on Website: http://www.iowalive.net/deriveopeff.htm  Waste Was Determined Similarly.

Anyone Claiming to Have Better Numbers is Asked to Provide Them, Along With Derivation Methods Used.

Sue Atkinson, PhD

P. O. Box 301

Baxter IA 50028

641-227-3786

Sincerely,

Iowalive  A growing network of volunteer citizens and professionals for improving Iowa