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Curriculum and the Achievement Gap

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1 Curriculum and the Achievement Gap

2 PAGE 2 Why? How is it that tests so early can predict results so many years later? What is in our curriculum that might be perpetuating these trends? What is not in our curriculum that might be perpetuating these trends? What is in our curriculum that explains why the gap between proficient readers and non-proficient readers increases every year?

3 PAGE 3 What are not the causes? Lack of critical thinking Failure to know or use comprehension strategies Failure to master the standards

4 PAGE 4 If critical thinking, strategies and standards are not the causes…

5 PAGE 5 What are the causes? Vocabulary: Failure to grow sufficient vocabulary Knowledge: Failure to develop wide background knowledge Fluency: Failure to become a fluent reader

6 PAGE 6 The Fluency-Vocabulary Connection Name the smartest, wisest person whoever lived. Rare words per 1000 (Hayes and Ahrens 1988) – College graduate speech 17.3 – Popular Adult TV shows 22.7 – Expert Eye Witness Testimony 28.4 – Children’s Books 30.9 – Adult Books 52.7 – Comic Books 53.5 – Popular Magazines 65.7 – Newspapers 68.3 CCSSO SCASS, Austin, TX

7 PAGE 7 The Fluency-Comprehension Connection “Comprehension” is a strange concept. A disfluent reader cannot integrate word, phrase and sentence meaning into her sense of what the text is about. (Perfetti 2007) CCSSO SCASS, Austin, TX

8 PAGE 8 Fluency and the Common Core The Common Core calls for more complex text Let’s consider the feature of complex text and which of these might disproportionately influence disfluent readers CCSSO SCASS, Austin, TX

9 PAGE 9 What are the Features of Complex Text? Subtle and/or frequent transitions Multiple and/or subtle themes and purposes Density of information Unfamiliar settings, topics or events Lack of repetition, overlap or similarity in words and sentences Complex sentences Uncommon vocabulary Lack of words, sentences or paragraphs that review or pull things together for the student Longer paragraphs Any text structure which is less narrative and/or mixes structures CCSSO SCASS, Austin, TX

10 PAGE 10 In General Two Types of Fluency Instruction The repeated readings of texts students have been prepared to read in other words that they can read fluently Following along in a text that is being read aloud by a fluent reader Why do you think this works? Let’s look at some strategies to do this CCSSO SCASS, Austin, TX

11 PAGE 11 Importance of Vocabulary Nearly a century of research (Whipple 1925, NAEP 2013) Feature of complex text that likely causes greatest difficulty (Nelson et al 2012) Having to determine the meaning of too many words slows readers up; problem gets much worse with complex text Not knowing words on the page is debilitating “30 Million Word Gap” nts/30%20Million%20Word%20Gap.pdf nts/30%20Million%20Word%20Gap.pdf After much research…

12 PAGE 12 Topics and References in Third Grade SBAC and PARCC Sample Tests Babe Ruth Smithsonian Alaska Native peoples Japan & Japanese art National Geographic Society Indonesia Animal communication U.S. Congress Animal mating Gills Animal traits Vertebrate Amphibian Larva Pupa Lifecycle Mammals Mass-produced

13 PAGE 13 “The Baseball Study” Recht & Leslie (1988)

14 PAGE 14 The Baseball Study Recht & Leslie (1988) Compared reading comprehension for four categories of students: High reading ability High knowledge of baseball High reading ability Low knowledge of baseball Low reading ability High knowledge of baseball Low reading ability Low knowledge of baseball

15 PAGE 15

16 PAGE 16 Findings Knowledge of the topic had a MUCH bigger impact on comprehension than generalized reading ability did (pg. 18) With sufficient prior knowledge “low ability” students performed similarly to higher ability students. (pg. 19) The difference in their performance was not statistically significant.

17 PAGE 17 A student doesn’t have ONE level. Each student has MANY LEVELS depending on topic & knowledge.

18 PAGE 18 We owe our students a better experience reading than this. We have to help them get the vocabulary and knowledge of the world they need to be able to read complex text.

19 PAGE 19 Topics in Passages on the SAT Burgess Shale Controversy surrounding question of earliest North American settlements Self Discovery via Early 20 th Century Shakespearean Theatre Tour Integrity of Modern Film Remakes Sleep Research Honore de Balzac Controversy surrounding the architecture of the Getty Museum Politics of Environmental Reporting

20 PAGE 20 What To Do About Vocabulary and Knowledge “Building knowledge systematically in English language arts is like giving children various pieces of a puzzle in each grade that, over time, will form one big picture…”

21 PAGE 21 Close ReadingVolume of Reading Less pagesMore pages Grade-level complex text Text at different levels of complexity All students same text Student or teacher choice of text Teaches students to attend to text and to words Rapidly builds knowledge & vocab

22 PAGE 22 Close ReadingVolume of Reading Heavy supportLight support Solely instructionalGuided or Independent Exposes students to higher-level content Builds knowledge of words, and the world Gives all students access Builds love of reading

23 PAGE 23 Students cannot build knowledge and vocabulary without a high volume of reading. Most words are learned through reading or being read to. Building knowledge helps level the playing field for students.

24 PAGE 24 Not all high-volume reading is equally effective Research by Landauer and Dumais into vocabulary acquisition shows that students acquire vocabulary up to four times faster when they read a series of related texts. Reading a number of texts within a topic grows knowledge and vocabulary far faster than any other approach Text Sets and the SAP Text Set Project


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