Literacy instruction in public schools is ‘Dismal’

by Grace

Arising out my frustration with the spotty quality of English instruction in our public schools, I have created an index that I choose to call the “Excellence in Literacy Instruction” (ELI).  It’s my whimsical measure of the quality of public high school literacy instruction, admittedly with no basis in science.  Here is how I calculate the index.

  1. Select the five best-selling English Language Arts resources for tenth-grade students from the Teachers pay Teachers website, an “online marketplace where teachers buy and sell … educational materials”.
  2. Assign each resource a upward-facing arrow ( ↑ ) or a downward-facing arrow ( ↓ ) based on my view on how well the lessons help in preparing a student for college-level work.
  3. Add up the total arrows to calculate the “ELI Index” score, which can range from “Excellent”  (↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑) to “Dismal”   (↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓) based on the number of arrows in each direction.

Here’s the current edition of the “ELI Index”

Best-selling ELA resources, with my comments and arrow scores:

  “Hunger Games” Unit: Lessons Q&A Tests Activities Quiz Vocab Maps Key  – A 5th-grade reading level book

   Creative Activities for ANY Novel or Short Story with Handouts – Activities include making recipes, writing a rap song, drawing a comic strip, etc.

   Hunger Games Teaching Unit CD Lessons, Quizzes, Tests, Activities  – A 5th-grade reading level book

   Reading Comprehension Strategy Resource Binder – After 7th grade “increased practice with reading comprehension strategies doesn’t bring any improved benefit“.

↓  Facebook Character Page — Versatile Activity for any Character – Facebook?  Do teens need more Facebook practice?

Final Score for the “ELI Index”:

Dismal – ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

Falling down on college preparation

Educators sometimes argue that above all else schools must develop the love of reading among their students.  This attitude supports the indiscriminate use of “fun” classroom projects instead of rigorous lessons, and a focus on letting students read and write whatever they want.  This comment is from a Joanne Jacobs post on the popularity of assigning The Hunger Games for high school reading.

If everyone is fine with kids graduating high school with a love of reading, but an inability to read college level texts, I think there is no problem. The problem comes when these kids graduate high school thinking that they are ready for college level texts and they aren’t. And if the kids are still working on 5th grade grammar/vocabulary in 10th and 11th grade time is running short.


Related:  High school students are assigned too many FIFTH-GRADE books (Cost of College)


4 Responses to “Literacy instruction in public schools is ‘Dismal’”

  1. Bonnie – whenever I read your anecdotes I think you had awfully bad luck with your education experience. I don’t know that “American education has sucked for a really long time”, and I think we’d see more improvement if educrats spent the increased funds they’ve received over the years more wisely.



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