Graduates Cannot Master College Text
In the article entitled, Graduates Cannot Master College Text, ACT Inc, in its study has highlighted the need for better reading instruction, clear and rigorous state standards for high school reading, and the use for more texts that are sophisticated and teaching materials. The findings that were derived from the study’s data presents that only 51 percent of test takers, planning for a college education met the reading benchmark criteria signifying readiness for college and their eventual success. The data details that white-American test takers achieving 59 percent, Asian-American test takers— 54 percent, African-American students— 25 percent, and Hispanic students— 42 percent.
Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress on the other hand has pointed out that the progressive complexity of reading texts from elementary to high school affects greatly the reading aptitude of students. ACT affirms this fact as not a problem to specific group of learners but a widespread problem of college-bound students as well. Thus, students who meet reading benchmarks tend to do better in college English, math and science courses.
Ilene Berman, the program director for Education for the National Governor Association (NGA) in a statement emphasized a literacy point— that strong performance in it is critical to strong academic performance, both in high school and post secondary education. NGA in its effort to improve adolescents’ literacy awarded eight grants of $50,000 to certain states. On the ACT report, NGA confirms its recommendations on the professional development for content area teachers, effective interventions for struggling students, and state standards for reading beyond grade 3.
However, the report distinguishes itself for calling the need for better text selection and higher teacher expectations for students’ literacy tasks, as it finds out that the type of text which students are exposed in high school has an impact on college reading readiness, and that state standards for adolescent reading are insufficient and non-existent— therefore, recommending guidelines for teachers’ choice of text, challenging for students. But some experts contend that text that is more difficult may exacerbate the problem.
Nevertheless, experts like Mr. Henriquez agree that drawing more attention and resources to improve adolescents’ reading proficiency is a critical step in raising their achievement at large— succeeding in science and math means succeeding in reading and writing as well.
The National Institute of Literacy defines reading as a complex system of deriving meaning from print that requires all of the following:
- the skills and knowledge to understand how phonemes, or speech sounds, are connected to print;
- the ability to decode unfamiliar words;
- the ability to read fluently;
- sufficient background information and vocabulary to foster reading comprehension;
- the development of appropriate active strategies to construct meaning from print;
- the development and maintenance of a motivation to read.
Reading therefore is must for literacy, for without the ability to read and appreciate reading, students are always bound for limited information. Information is necessary to excel, for a grasp of it means a control of one’s educational dynamics. But how possible it is in instilling the like and love of reading in students? It may be— but it requires the most dedicative disposition in teachers as to make students value reading the most. Yes, the type of text, its relevance and suitability, may somehow affect how a student disposes himself in the learning process of reading. However, an important factor is how the process of reading gets into the system of the student. Thus, the teacher plays an important role of defining the educational avenue at which the student will enjoy it.
Reading presupposes information in the context of insightful realization of educational meanings. Unless something is held for a reason and value, one cannot appreciate the thing or situation he has. Meaning— it is the ultimate motivation of human experiences. A definition of each moment a student has for himself in his educational venture would truly enhance his perception and perspective of knowledge. There must be meaning in reading— and it should be the attitude that would define the ultimate test of doing something and making a difference. An elementary student may be too young to learn the value of reading, but if his teacher insists of making reading the most enjoyable adventure in the classroom, such impression will be otherwise. A high school student on the other hand may be too old to understand reading, but if the teacher relives the reading adventure, it may prove their likes of reading.
Reading defines academic performance ultimately. Whether or not, a student aims for flying colors— reading makes the way for him to the future of self-importance. Literacy may be the classic definition of one’s worth, and reading appropriately will carve a name for it. We cannot dissociate reading and literacy. The more you read, the more you understand the world around you. The more the student finds a meaning to reading, the more he will understand the world around him. Math or science— any courses will be at the mercy of the value of reading, for it makes possible the fullness of educational achievement.
To the question— if graduates can master college text? — the answer is yes. In what ways and how— the teacher has his answer to share, the student has his share as well, and the state has the greater responsibility to facilitate the realization of the like and love of reading. The teacher may find it too difficult to attain and look for ways, the student may find it hard to accept and bow down— but if these players in the reading process find the meaning and importance, gone will be the days that students do not like reading. Whatever educational venture therefore will be as easy as watching television and laugh at it— knowing how reading makes a difference in the educational arena of people’s lives.
by Cromwell Artiaga, Ed.D.
Definition of Reading. Retrieved February 24, 2008, from The National Institute of Literacy, Web site: http://www.nifl.gov/partnershipforreading/explore/reading_defined.html
Manzo, K. K. (2006). Graduates can’t master college text. Education Week, 25(25), 1 & 16