DR. SUE RESPONDS TO GOV. BRANSTAD'S SUMMER READING PILOT

2-16-16

Greetings, Governor Branstad and all—

The following is superior educator, Dr. Sue Atkinson’s eloquent response to your pilot, summer remedial reading program, announced on Monday.  The Governor did not state any improved student achievement results expectations.   To fill the void here are Iowalive’s numbers. 

Average reading grade level will increase only 3% at an average total cost per student of at least $1,000.  If so, it will be another school fix failure concocted by Iowa educators and foisted on the governor.   Dr. Sue comments below. But at least it can be terminated on short notice and minimal additional cost.  Anyone claiming to have better numbers is asked to provide them.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported the typical summer pilot reading program will last six weeks at about 3 hours a day and 4 to 5 days a week, for a total of about 80 hours per student.  For comparison, Judy Hintz’ Educational Resource Associates school would raise students 2 grades in 20 hours of instruction for about $1,000 http://www.iowalive.net/judyhintzteachespoorkids.htm

Sincerely,

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

Dr. Sue Atkinson writes: 

·       According to the Governor’s office, “nearly 25% of Iowa third-graders did not read proficiently on state tests during the 2014-2015 academic year”  -- NOT CLARIFIED is the fact these tests were set at the low proficiency standard Iowa uses (rather than grade-level standard necessary to be globally competitive), so, using the 2015 NAEP results for fourth-graders, that failure percentage would be closer to 60%.  

·       According to the Governor’s office ‘”Our children will not be able to receive a globally competitive education unless they can read well from the start”’ – NOT CLARIFIED is why this does not mean using grade-level standards for teaching, for effective remediation, and for testing. 

·       According to Debora Reed of the Iowa Reading Research Center, “The pilot project will examine how learning programs work in the condensed summer schedule, the effectiveness of the programs, and their cost-effectiveness” – NOT CLARIFIED is whether the lessons of the Rand Corp commissioned study will be applied (because they emphasized content, teaching effectiveness, and sufficient time) in place of the Iowa education position that some students simply need a summer refresher. 

·       NOT MENTIONED is whether or not the dysfunctional phonics program Iowa has been using will be continued in summer school or replaced with a competent one containing rules that actually cover all words and do not leave out some learning styles (thus putting a stop to leaving certain groups of students automatically behind due to poor content and ineffective teaching).

·       NOT MENTIONED is whether effective remedation will be used in place of the dysfunctional classroom methods that created the problem in the first place  -- EVEN Special Ed. does not use effective remediation because they do not know how.

EFFECTIVE REMEDIATION means identifying a student’s learning style and using it for the focus of lessons, beginning at the lowest level, covering all the concepts, and progressing up to grade level.  This methodology is adapted to the SmarterBalance tests that will begin in the fall of 2016, and is available for instruction through computer programs now – NOT CLARIFIED is if the cost-effectiveness of this approach is being tested as well.

Sue Atkinson, PhD

P. O. Box 301

Baxter IA 50028

641-227-3786