Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Time to Act: Adolescent Literacy

Time to Act, a Comprehensive Report from Carnegie Corporation of New York, Demonstrates How to Re-Engineer Literacy Instruction Across the Curriculum to Drive Student Achievement in All Subjects
Reuters: September 15, 2009

A new report from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY), Time to Act: An Agenda for Advancing Adolescent Literacy for College and Career Readiness, pinpoints adolescent literacy as a cornerstone of the current education reform movement, upon which efforts such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act must be built. The report's recommended actions point out important intersections with the $4.35 billion Race to the Top competitive grant guidelines with their emphasis on standards and assessments, data systems, great teachers and leaders, and efforts to turn around struggling schools. Additionally, the report is released as the Senate considers the introduction of a bill that would authorize $2.35 billion annually for five years for birth to grade twelve literacy instruction, 40 percent of which would go to adolescent literacy. These funds would dramatically increase the federal support for adolescent literacy efforts.

On the heels of the World Economic Forum's recent pronouncement that the United States lost its place to Switzerland as the world's most competitive economy, education thought leaders convened today to discuss this watershed report that culminates and analyzes years of research on literacy instruction.

The report notes the downward spiral of adolescent reading achievement levels:
U.S. students in grade four score among the best in the world, yet by tenth-grade students score among the lowest in the world. The report provides steps for leaders at all levels to combat this unsustainable trend for the United States.

"As schools consider how to re-engineer to meet the demands of the 21st century, they must also establish a culture of literacy," stated Vartan Gregorian, president of CCNY. "Integrating literacy instruction across the curriculum is critical for students to master the skills required for college and careers."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Literacy Tribune: September 2009

Literacy Tribune: September 2009

United Literacy, a non-profit organization, provides resources and support to adult literacy learners in the United States. Its aim is to make literacy education accessible and worthwhile for adult learners.

Main Story: Understanding Dyslexia - Sylvester Pues
~ Dyslexia is a language-based learning problem. People with dyslexia have problems with language skills like reading or writing and processing that information.
A Learner's Poem
~ Good Feeling by Rodolfo Diaz
Member Spotlight: Henry Winkler
~ Henry Winkler is many things: actor, producer, director, author, and dyslexic developer all before he learned to read at age 48.
Organization Spotlight: VALUE
~ Voice of Adult Learners United to Educate is a nationwide nonprofit founded to give adult learners a voice and improve adult literacy education in the United States through adult learner leadership and involvement.
A History Lesson: The Indian Wars
~ On December 29, 1890, 500 troops from the U.S. Army’s 7th Calvary surrounded the Pine Ridge Reservation of Sioux Indians near Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota.
Technology Watch: Operating Systems
~ the most important program on your computer. Without an operating system, your computer will not work. The operating system performs basic but important tasks.

The Literacy Tribune is looking for adult learner writers.

Are you an adult learner ?
Do you want to write ?
Do you want to publish your writing ?

You can write about:
Your road to literacy
Your literacy organization
Literacy resources you like
You can write book reviews, poetry, short stories
You can write articles about health, finance, or technology
You can write just about anything !

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

International Literacy Day: September 8

Obama urges students to work hard, stay in school
CNN: September 8, 2009

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- One of the most unexpected controversies of the Obama administration came to a head Tuesday as the president delivered a hotly debated back-to-school speech to students across the country.

Many conservatives expressed fear over the past week that the president's address would be used to push a partisan political agenda. Obama, however, avoided any mention of political initiatives. He repeatedly urged students to work hard and stay in school (text).

"There is no excuse for not trying," he told students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia (video).

"This isn't just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you're learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future." READ MORE !

Dropouts Cost Texas $9.6 Billion
Texas A&M
: August 26, 2009

Students who drop out of high school will cost Texas up to $9.6 billion in lost revenue and outright expenses over their lifetimes, and that figure escalates as each new crop of dropouts is created, concludes a study commissioned by the United Ways of Texas and written by The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

A team of 10 graduate students used lost wages, diminished sales tax revenue and welfare payments to calculate the costs in their report, “The ABCD’s of Texas Education: Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Reducing the Dropout Rate.” The effects of dropouts on crime and the associated costs were also considered.

The calculations were based on the projected dropout rate for the class of 2012 – 12.2 percent to 22.2 percent, or 40,519 to 73,692 students.

Facing California’s Dropout Crisis

The dropout rate in California reached record highs in the 2006/07 academic year, the last year for which data is available. Each county's data for the past ten years was compiled by the California Department of Education, and is available on their DataQuest page. The data reflects the four-year derived dropout rate, which is defined in the California Department of Education's Glossary of Terms.

Videos, slideshows and statistics.
The Problem
The Numbers
The Dropouts

The Consequences
The Solution

The Condition of Education (NCES)
looks at information gathered from recent international studies that U.S. students have participated in:

~ Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)
assesses the reading performance of 4th-graders every 5 years.
~ Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)

assesses the reading, mathematics, and science literacy of 15-year-old students every 3 years.
~ Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)

assesses the mathematics and science performance of both 4th- and 8th-graders every 4 years.

In reading, the average scores of U.S. students are the same or higher than their peers in roughly three-quarters of the other countries that have participated in PIRLS and PISA assessments. Moreover, the number of countries that outperformed the United States on PIRLS increased from three in 2001 to seven in 2006 among the 28 countries that participated in both tests.

In mathematics, results from the 2007 TIMSS assessment show that U.S. students have improved at both grades 4 and 8 since the first administration of TIMSS in 1995.

The most recent PISA results suggests that U.S. 15-year-olds are not as successful in applying mathematics knowledge and skills to real-world tasks as their peers in many other developed nations. The mathematics average score placed U.S. 15-year-olds in the bottom quarter of participating developed nations, a position unchanged from 2003.

In science, results from TIMSS 2007 assessment show that U.S. 4th graders have fallen behind their peers in several countries, even though their average scores in science have not declined since the first administration of TIMSS in 1995. Among the other 15 countries that participated in the 1995 and 2007 TIMSS at grade 4, the average science score increased in seven countries and decreased in five countries; at grade 8, the average science score increased in five countries and decreased in three countries among the other 18 countries that participated in both 1995 and 2007.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Requiem for Reading ?

A Requiem for Reading ?
East County Magazine: August 26, 2009

by Craig S. Maxwell

The memorial service for my grandfather, Vernon Wahrenbrock, was sparsely attended; the inevitable consequence, I suppose, of his having lived nearly a century. All his friends and much of his family were gone. We, his survivors, were there of course. And so were a few of the folks he'd come to know at the rest home. But the only other person to pay his respects that day was Chuck Valverde. It was February 18th, 2008 and already he was pale and thin. Still, I had no way of knowing that within six months I and hundreds of others would be attending a memorial service for Chuck himself.

The link between these very dissimilar but remarkable men was, of course, Wahrenbrock's Book House – the shop my grandfather founded in 1935 and that Chuck had operated (and later owned) since 1967.

Wahrenbrock's had always been the flagship of San Diego's used bookstore fleet and one of the best used bookstores on the West Coast. Recently, many San Diegans were shocked and saddened to hear that the store itself was gone – its doors closed forever.

The store's sudden demise, falling as it did hard on the heels of its owners' deaths, has provoked thought and memory. Is this simply a reflection of the timing? Smack on the front page of the San Diego Union-Tribune was the story of a small business – Wahrenbrock's – gone south. Why? Other failed ventures don't get that kind of attention. Sure, at 74 the shop was old – at least by San Diego standards. But no one had paid any attention to my father's business when it closed back in the nineties, and it had been around since 1896. No, there was something about Wahrenbrock's, and perhaps about used bookshops in general (which have been steadily disappearing for twenty years or more) that led to all the attention and caused our city's collective lament. I think I know the answer, but my explanation will require a brief detour through the past.

I, too, was destined to become a used bookman. On one occasion during my informal yet invaluable apprenticeship with Brian Lucas at Adams Avenue Bookstore a co-worker, while casually thumbing through a volume said, “You know, this is a pretty durable piece of technology.” He was right. The technology to which he referred was the codex book – the book as we commonly know it. I was amazed at the profundity of that simple observation.
Story continues below ↓
In a recent lecture at Rice University, another skeptic, America's best known bookseller and Pulitzer Prize winning author Larry McMurtry, mourned what he sees as the end of an era. “My theme is a sad one. It's the end of reading. I had always thought that books may end, but reading would not. I'm not so sure anymore.” He continued, “It's just sad that what is being left behind is a very beautiful culture, the culture of the book. I think it's gone, I don't think it will come back,” he said. “My bookshop has become a temple. It's not…commercial real estate anymore. They come in and hold a book as if they're holding a talismanic object from a past culture. And, in a way, they are.”

Sure, many people will continue to buy books on line. But utterly absent from such impersonal, sterile transactions is the irreplaceable experience – the romance of browsing – with all of the attendant smells and textures among out-of-print books on old wooden shelves and the ever present possibility of stumbling across that unexpected work of genius.

And public libraries will probably continue to exist in some form or other. But they too are increasingly yielding to popular demands for contemporary media, and ultimately this means fewer books. Just a few weeks ago, a customer asked me if I had a specific volume from Will and Ariel Durant's magnificent The Story of Civilization. He said he tried to find it out at the library but was told that they no longer carry the set. The reason: it wasn't popular enough.

Wahrenbrock's Book House was San Diego's oldest and most distinguished inventory of "talismanic object[s] from a past culture.” The question that faces us in the wake of its demise is not can we survive without stores like it, but what must we be if the answer is yes. What are we without the past? Until recently America, along with the rest of the West, had been guided by the seminal ideas, emotions and desires in the stories, poems and chronicles that silently and unobtrusively reside between two covers, until they are opened. So far we have only had a foretaste of what will happen if they remain closed, and it is bitter. READ MORE !

Craig Maxwell is the proprietor of Maxwell’s House of Books

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Adult Literacy Awareness Month

September: Adult Literacy Awareness Month

Proclamation 5519
By the President of the United States of America
August 27, 1986

The incidence of illiteracy and functional illiteracy among the Nation's adult population negatively affects our economy, our social institutions, and our security. It also limits the opportunities open to those who lack basic reading and writing skills. Estimates of the number of illiterate or functionally illiterate Americans range from twenty-three million to over fifty million.

Adult illiteracy has not received the attention it deserves. As Americans come to understand the problem better they will come to grips with it. Illiteracy is not limited to any region of the Nation, nor to any social or ethnic group. We must take this problem seriously and provide the means and the motivation to help those with literacy deficiencies to master the ability to read and write.

America’s Literacy Directory: State & Local Hotlines
1 . 800 . 228 . 8813

Canada: National Adult Literacy Database

International Reading Association
~ ProLiteracy