EDUS 660: #11 Literacy…the buck stops no where

As you think about all the many types of public/social programs there are out there (literacy, teen pregnancy prevention, delinquency prevention, wellness, etc.), which ones do you know have actually undergone a rigorous program evaluation and have demonstrable outcomes? Which ones do you feel have not been adequately evaluated and need to have some greater scrutiny put on them?  Why?  Tag evaluation.

We've come a long way in our reading instruction for both children and adults.
We’ve come a long way in our reading instruction for both children and adults.

Learning how to read was such an adventure….NOT!  In the 1960’s while many educators were embracing new teaching philosophies, theories about reading instruction were stuck in the 1950’s.  Stories with dogs named Spot and with a brother and sister named Dick and Jane were so far removed from my reality.  I didn’t know anyone who looked like the characters in the Little White House series of primers.  I learned how to read, however, the expectations for literacy were rather low in during this time period.

P. David Pearson writes and researches on educational issues. “While No Child Left Behind has done a credible job of helping educators make sure that all students have basic literacy skills, it hasn’t given us the types of thoughtful and critical readers and writers we need”  (The Washington Post, March 9, 2012). He continues on in his article to talk about how the flaws of the NCLB initiative failed to provide thoughtful, critical readers and writers. Where others could see a “period” after the flaw, he sees a semicolon asking us to take a longer time to think than a pause.  We need to think about how assessments allow society to understand the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the current system.

The No Child Left Behind initiative amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).     It made changes in the way that Federal programs supported the education of the nation’s youth. According to the State Council of High Education for Virginia emphasis was placed on the quality of the teacher when improving student achievement.  According to the U.S.Department of Education, this revision to Johnson’s initiative received bipartisan support.  Congress reauthorized it, George Bush signed it into law and public educators began to get nervous. When teachers become nervous students take notice.  It’s not a good thing!

Those students considered underserved became more vunerable to public exposure when being compared to their peers in more affluent regions.  So how do we know what is and is not working?  When considering whether the intended results are achieved, evaluation research must occur.  Babbie contends that the purpose of research is “to evaluate the impact of social interventions such as new teaching methods or innovations” (Babbie, 2013:354). How do you evaluate the impact of opportunity for every child in the form of a test?  How can we evaluate children or a school system that does not have the same opportunities and resources to do the work of educating our children. Programs on a national level would most certainly be held to rigorous standards of evaluation. A brief overview of the Evaluation of Flexibility Under No child Left Behind provides citizens with useful information in a palpable format.

Secretary Duncan’s speech reminds Americans that we need to take the path toward equity. He believes that we need to begin a conversation that discusses how students achieve.  As a former educator in the public classroom, I know that a generic assessment frequently misses the mark when assessing the interventions conducted. The beliefs postulated by the Secretary in this speech are worthy ideals for success in life.  It will be interesting to see how the administration behind the new ESEA will evaluate the new social interventions.
Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville/Albemarle

As an “Adult Educator in training” I look for instances to engage my classroom skills with real world experiences. As a Literacy Volunteer, I work with an adult English Language Learner each week.  My interest in doing so was sparked several years ago after conversing with an ESL educator. The Literacy Volunteers in my community are a member of the ProLiteracy organization. The LVCA provides instruction to those individuals in the community who have either low literacy or no English literacy.  This organization exemplifies a social intervention that works. The 30 years of service to adults in the community strive to continuously move students from achieving basic literacy skills to engaging in critical reading and thought.  The staff and tutors are recruited, trained and governed through a Board of Directors. One of their publicized goals is to evaluate their program and make improvements.  At this point in my relationship, which is almost one year, I am uncertain of the instruments employed to do so.  Being aware of these instruments, the frequency of assessment and its impact on the program would be of interest to me as a result of learning in this course.

Here is an infogram of those served in 2012-2013:

Tutoring an adult is one of the most rewarding ways that I spend my time. It’s so gratifying to learn from the director that my student exceeds the benchmarks established by the program. An instance to develop not only the literacy skills of my student, but that of her family members, is so gratifying. After twenty years of teaching, I have a student who always does her homework!

Something to Chew on-

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.
“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”  Mark Twain

Society is concerned about illiteracy and with good cause.  How do we evaluate “aliteracy”, the quality or act of being able to read but being uninterested in doing so?


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