C. and Ed read the question two minutes ago and both chose A. (Debbie and I chose A, too.) Ed is sitting here now basically running through Glen's entire line of reasoning, all 5 points. I'm cracking up!
Of course, getting this answer right is no great feat: according to the research summary I found, 83% of subjects in the Katz and Lautenschlager et al study got it right, too, with no more than 7% of subjects choosing B, C, D, or E.
Glen and Ed didn't have to get as fancy schmancy as they did, either. (I say that with love!) According to Katz and Lautenschalger as quoted by Iri-Noda-San, all any of us had to do to answer this question was to note that:
“[t]he item just discussed is flawed because not a single incorrect choice characterizes a socially appropriate attitude toward children, whereas the correct choice does (p. 304)”.Wayne C. Booth (or: I wish kids could be English majors again)
I have never actually read Wayne Booth, I am sorry to say. I intend to.
Back in graduate school I knew just enough about Wayne Booth's work to have been deeply intrigued by his notion of the implied author, and to have spent quite a bit of time thinking about what exactly an implied author might consist of inside a movie as opposed to a book.
Last night, after Debbie arrived fresh from her tutoring adventures bearing news of the Katz and Lautenschlager study, I had a eureka moment: the SAT has an implied author.
The SAT has an implied author, and you need to read the implied author as well as the passages to get the answers right. That's what good readers do.
I have been naturally reading the implied author in SAT reading sections, and so has C. I say "naturally" because I do it without thinking about it, and if I do think about it, I don't take it seriously. When C. and I joke about the "grammatically correct" minority questions in the writing section, we're joking. We don't see ourselves as having (correctly) interpreted a text.
In fact, I rely upon my understanding of the implied author to such a degree that the single most useful piece of advice anyone ever gave me about SAT reading was LexAequita's observation that SAT reading questions are "picayune in the sense that you'd better start thinking like a 13-year old with Asperger's syndrome." On one level, Lex's advice is about the logic of SAT reading questions, but on another level Lex's advice is about the implied author. The implied author is picayune!
(There's an implied author in the math sections, too.)
These days, of course, no one has heard of implied authors and the like; the formal analysis of literature seems to have disappeared from English departments across the land. I search high and low for close readings of the folk tales and fairy tales I'm teaching, and all I find are Marxist analyses and multiple references to menstruation. I am not going to discuss menstruation with a class full of 18 year old boys (and girls) taking developmental composition. Nor with a class full of 18 year old boys and girls taking non-developmental composition, for that matter.
If I knew how to do a close reading of texts, if I knew more than just a smidgeon about functional linguistics, I bet I could crack the test, as opposed to consistently get the answers right without knowing why I consistently get the answers right.
And I wish I had been able to take a class with Wayne Booth. His students obviously loved him.
Who teaches kids to read the implied author in a text?
If you're lucky, an English teacher will show your child how to locate main and supporting ideas in nonfiction texts. And there is a strong focus in many precincts upon identifying an author's "biases." David Mulroy writes about the contemporary preoccupation with argument in The War Against Grammar.
But I think that's about it.
I know a student in a neighboring town, who I worked with briefly on SAT reading. He put a great deal of time and energy into preparing for the test, and his writing and math scores both were in the mid 700s by October, but he could not get his reading score above the low 600s.
That never made sense to me. He and I had read together. He was a good reader, and he was smart.
You see kids like him time and again, and people remark on it. The reading test is the one that can't be tutored; that's the rule.
Now I'm wondering if kids are failing to read the implied author.
I'm also wondering whether it would be a good idea to have students purposely take some critical reading sections without reading the passages. Offhand, such an exercise seems like a good way to reveal the SAT's implied author.
The researchers who've looked into this issue seem to take the view that if a test-taker can answer the questions on a reading passage without reading the passage, the test is invalid.
That strikes me as the wrong way to look at it, although I haven't read the papers. In the studies, students who did best answering questions without reading the passage also scored highest on the test itself, and I think it's at least possible that this research reveals more about the nature of strong readers than it does about the SAT. I am now wondering how many questions I answer not on the basis of the passages but on the basis of the tone, style, grammar, and content in the question sections per se.
I don't know the answer to that, but I'd like to.
The author’s attitude toward children appears to be one of:
(A) concern for the development of their moral integrity
(B) idealization of their inexperience and vulnerability
(C) contempt for their inability to accept unpleasant facts
(D) exaggerated sympathy for their problems in daily life
(E) envy of their willingness to learn about morality
Katz, S., Blackburn, A. B., & Lautenschlager, G. (1991). Answering reading comprehension items without passages on the SAT when items are quasirandomized. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 51, 747-754.
Katz, S., Johnson, C, & Pohl, E. (1999). Answering reading comprehension items without the passages on the SAT-I. Psychological Reports, 85, 1157-1163.
Katz, S., & Lautenschlager, G. (1994). Answering reading comprehension questions without passages on the SAT-I, ACT, and GRE. Educational Assessment, 2, 295-308.
Katz, S., Lautenschlager, G., Blackburn, A. B., & Harris, F. (1990). Answering reading comprehension items without passages on the SAT. Psychological Science, 1, 122—127.
Millman, J., Bishop, C. H., & Ebel, R. (1965). An analysis of testwiseness. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 5, 707-727.
Powers, D. E., & Leung, S. W. (1995). Answering the new SAT reading comprehension questions without the passages. Journal of Educational Measurement, 32, 105-129.
Pyrczak, F. (1972). Objective evaluation of the quality of multiple-choice items designed to measure comprehension of reading passages. Reading Research Quarterly, 8, 62-72.
Tuinman, J. (1973-74). Determining the passage dependency of comprehension questions in five major tests. Reading Research Quarterly, 9, 206-223.