During the last five daily blog posts, I have worked my way through the five rules from P. David Pearson and the #ILA19 panel session at 7 a.m. Saturday titled: “What Research Says About Teaching Reading and Why that Still Matters.”
Understanding the research in today’s world takes some work, some thinking, and a good hard look at the evidence, the word that appears in both rule 3 and rule 5.
A week ago, this was how I started my first draft for the series. I quickly discovered as I wrote that this look at the Big Picture was the ending of the series instead of the beginning. The REAL beginning was the panel presentation that recentered some beliefs in processes and brought back a review process used by our Statewide Literacy Team in the past.
So let’s get started. “It was a dark and stormy night.” (I love how Snoopy works that into every story!)
Compare these headlines:
- ‘No Progress’ Seen in Reading or Math on Nation’s Report Card
- Screen Time Up as Reading Scores Drop. Is There a Link?
- The One And Only Lesson To Be Learned From NAEP Scores
- Mississippi: Miracle or Mirage – 2019 NAEP Reading Scores Prompt Questions Not Answers
Match the quotes with the titles above. 1. #Headlines
_____ NAEP is extraordinarily clear that folks should not try to suggest a causal relationship between scores and anything else. Everyone ignores that advice, but NAEP clearly acknowledges that there are too many factors at play here to focus on any single one.
_____ In reading, Mississippi was the only state to improve in 2019 in 4th grade and Washington, D.C. (considered as a state) was the only one to improve in 8th grade. (The District of Columbia, in fact, showed the fastest gains this year of any state or large school district.)
_____ Todd Collins has raised another important caveat to the 4th-grade reading gains in Mississippi because the state has the highest 3rd-grade retention percentages in the country. . .
_____ Mississippi was the only state in the country to improve reading scores, and was number one in the country for gains in fourth-grade reading and math, according to newly released test results.
_____ Students have actually lost ground since 2017 on both of the NAEP’s main reading content areas: literary experience, such as fiction analysis, and reading for information, such as finding evidence to support an argument. Both grades declined significantly in both areas from 2017 to 2019, but the drop was larger for literary skills.
Which ones seemed pretty obvious?
Which ones took a bit more thought?
And then which two came from the same publisher?
. . .
. . .
#1 Headlines and text that supports or matches the headline.
3, 1, 5, 4, 2.
Same Publisher: 1 and 2 were both EdWeek
Of the five articles, where would you expect to see research?
Tip: #2 showed that data was reported but not research in article #4.
What is the best evidence?
When I return to “Results are in: Mississippi Students #1 in the Country for Reading Gains,” I actually have more questions after more reading. Especially after reading this article: “Here’s What All the NAEP coverage missed.”
What if the reading gains are the result of higher beginning points every year?
2.#Research Applied Evenly
What would be worthy of studying?
- Is the gain the result of instruction delivered to the students?
- Is the gain the result of the professional development provided for the teachers since 2013?
- Is the gain the result of the addition of coaches in the lowest buildings (in the fall of 2018)?
- Is the gain the result of the retention policy?
And that takes me back to Paul Thomas’s blog (#5 above). And this updated section:
- UPDATE: Todd Collins has raised another important caveat to the 4th-grade reading gains in Mississippi because the state has the highest 3rd-grade retention percentages in the country:
But Mississippi has taken the concept further than others, with a retention rate higher than any other state. In 2018–19, according to state department of education reports, 8 percent of all Mississippi K–3 students were held back (up from 6.6 percent the prior year). This implies that over the four grades, as many as 32 percent of all Mississippi students are held back; a more reasonable estimate is closer to 20 to 25 percent, allowing for some to be held back twice. (Mississippi’s Department of Education does not report how many students are retained more than once.)
This last concern means that significant numbers of students in states with 3rd-grade retention based on reading achievement and test scores are biologically 5th-graders being held to 4th-grade proficiency levels. Grade retention is not only correlated with many negative outcomes (dropping out, for example), but also likely associated with “false positives” on testing; as well, most states seeing bumps in 4th-grade test scores also show that those gains disappear by middle and high school.
After several questions about “retention” and/or “intervention” and/or “multiple attempts on the state assessment,” maybe this is a focus for research. What data do we have? What data do we need to collect? What other questions bubble up?
- Did students who did not meet the proficiency level have higher absenteeism that proficient students?
- Did any specific classrooms have higher growth than others?
- What do we know about the implementation of the teacher training?
This “study” may require some additional data collection but it could be undertaken relatively quickly to form some general ideas yet this year.
Because I want to reduce the need for intervention, I might also explore this chapter from Regie Routman’s, Read, Write, Lead. (Link) 3.#Best Evidence 4.#Full portfolio of methodology
What I wouldn’t do is:
Give the 4 point credit to ANY of the above areas without study.
Blame teachers for not implementing “enough” or “correctly” without study.
Say that Mississippi has a program that should be replicated in every state because we don’t know the amount of resources that it took to get these results that are not sustained through 8th grade . . . without study. 5. Evidence, not a straw person.
The purpose of this post was to pull together a topic currently in the literacy field, generate some questions, look at the data, and apply the 5 rules from the Research presentation. In less than an hour my questions were generated and this post was written. A beginning application. A beginning look at the Big Picture.
You can do this.
You must do this.
You need to verify the accuracy of what you are reading. Find a partner and get started!