kitchen table math, the sequel: high school - college reading gap

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

high school - college reading gap

at the Irvington Parents Forum


Anonymous said...


Here is a link to the original article by Williamson re text readability.

kcab said...

Catherine, I think I've read a post or two on changes in textbook reading level over time, but I am failing to find the right label. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

A paper that KTM has probably linked to in the past is:

And this google search might help:


-Mark Roulo

kcab said...

Thanks, Mark!

Anonymous said...

Isn't the root problem that now we expect the average kid to go to college, whereas it used to be just the exceptional kid who went to college? We've dumbed down high school so all kids can graduate, but college remains almost as hard as it used to be. So you end up with today's average (lower than yesterday's average) confronting yesteryear's exceptional, and that's a very bad fit.

I frequently had problems with students' unmet need for remediation in college - it's hard to teach a kid the difference between "bueno" and "bien" if he doesn't know what an adverb is even in English.

lgm said...

The root is that neither the exceptional or above average are allowed to access the courses they need to get to be ready for college. Tracking and low expectations start with math in Grade 2 for ex.; if you don't afterschool your child isn't going to make the honors cut or be prepared to succeed in Alg in 9th. It's similar in reading - everyone is held to grade level or below, which doesn't lead to college ready, unless college ready is remedial english and college algebra.

Students need courses that allow them to learn, not spin wheels or drown. We need to expect at least a year's worth of progress for a year's worth of time for the children who are unclassified, stable family situation. We no longer have opportunity in many public schools - even the olden day solution of reading when done is gone.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say that college has remained almost as hard as it used to be. Weeding out a third of the freshman class, usually through the sciences or English lit and comp, was the norm in my day. Engineering schools commonly graduated only 1/3 of the entering freshmen. My youngest has been out of college for 5 years and none of the kids were expected to do the amount of reading or writing that was usual in my day. I remember a freshman-level advanced intermediate French class where we were expected to read an entire modern play (Anouilh, Beckett etc.) every week, and do an essay on some aspect of it. Freshman english also did plays, from the Ancient Greeks to modern, and we read two a week, plus essays. That was at a flagship state school; the Harvard freshman reading list was very impressive.

Catherine Johnson said...

oh thanks for the link!

Mark has the right link on decline in text complexity

Hard for me to see how college has remained as difficult as it used to be --- BUT that's an impression

ChemProf said...

I think there is a fair amount of evidence that introductory classes in many colleges require less reading and writing than they used to.

Oh, and if you want to see how scary the decline in text complexity is, try entering some old children's lit into a grade level calculator. Beatrix Potter comes in around 7th grade or so.