California Raises Test Scores

Congratulations are in order.  The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that California students have once again raised their standardized test scores:

Standardized test results released today show scores inched up for the eighth year in a row in the state’s public schools. They rose across most demographics and grade levels, an indication that state schools are headed in the right direction.

…Since 2003, 731,133 more students have become proficient in English, a 17 percentage point gain, and 586,765 more are scoring better in math, up 13 percentage points, state education officials said.

As we’ve mentioned before, the California Standards Test (CST) is linked to the Lexile scale and reports a CRL (California Reading List number), which denotes a student’s Lexile range.  It’s good to see California making solid gains.

An End of Summer Reading Boost

As you’re gearing up for the school year, you may need an end-of-summer reading boost to jump start your child’s reading activities.  And if you’re a teacher, you may need some beginning-of-year readings to jump start the school year.  In either case, Summer Reads are a terrific option for students entering 3rd, 4th, or 5thgrades.  Developed by Dr. Freddy Hiebert, Summer Reads selections and activities incorporate solid research on what works to develop reading skills and presents it in fun, engaging material.

Summer Reads offers short, nonfiction readings on interesting summertime topics and are FREE to download.  Each piece includes a brief letter to the student explaining how to do the reading activities.  At the end of each selection, Hiebert includes a chart where the student can rate his/her reading and thinking.  The chart will help students step through the full reading activity and will also help them become more aware of their own reading process and skills.  Each Summer Reads selection also includes several short comprehension questions that students are instructed to answer independently.  The answers can be found at the TExT project web site.   As an added bonus for struggling readers, an audio version of the selection is available for free download.    Be sure to check out Summer Reads!

Room to Read: Ending Illiteracy Around the World

In today’s economic climate, it is rare to hear big banks and hedge fund groups described as “some of the most generous people”. But that is exactly how John Wood, founder and executive chairman of Room to Read, describes members of such groups like Goldman Sachs and Cardiff Swiss – groups that have helped fund this admirable literacy initiative.

 Wood, a former senior executive with Microsoft, was recently interviewed on about his literacy venture. About 10 years ago, he visited rural Nepal and was astonished by the lack of reading material and access to educational materials. He saw an empty library that was responsible for serving over 500 students. A Nepalese headmaster told him, “We are too poor to afford education. But until we have education, we will always be poor.” This was the driving force behind his leaving Microsoft and starting Room to Read, a non-profit organization providing educational access to millions of children across the world. (more…)

Do E-readers Inspire More Reading?

Last Wednesday’s The Wall Street Journal reported on the rise of e-readers and the fact that many Americans may be reading more because of these new technologies.  As the National Endowment for the Arts has reported, the last few years have seen a decline in the amount of time spent reading, particularly among Americans ages 18-24 who report reading zero books over the last year.  That’s why it is encouraging to see that out of 1,200 e-reader owners, 40% now read more than they did when they had access only to print material.  With Forrester Research estimating that 11 million Americans will own an e-reader by the end of September, we can infer that the percentage of Americans reading regularly will likely rise.  And Amazon reported that customers buy 3.3 times as many books after buying a Kindle.

But are we truly reading more?  It may not be quite that simple.  Are the statistics misleading, obscuring the fact that people may buy these gadgets and impulsively buy a number of e-books in the excitement of trying out their new toy? Did they initially buy the e-reader simply because it was the hottest new technology out there? Even On Our Minds blogger, Ivy Li reported that while she was an early adopter of e-readers, and has since constantly filled her spare time with reading, she isn’t reading more and certainly not as well!  Though the portability of the e-book devices is certainly attractive, reading in short spurts may prove difficult for total immersion in certain texts. She admits she ‘book-hops’ and gets caught up in the millions of books available for her to buy.

It’s too soon to tell what long-term impact e-readers will have on our overall reading habits.  Consumers appear to have a strong desire for digitized content, whatever the delivery device.  It’s our hope that Americans continue to read in increasing numbers – whether through electronic devices or in print.

A Common Standard, A Common Scale

Scholastic’s Jennifer Chintala shares her insight that the Common Core State Standards offer educators a sense of uniformity across states’ curricular expectations in both English and mathematics.  Chintala argues that as families move across state lines, educators will find a strong degree of continuity between the curriculum standards of each state.

That’s welcome news.  Correspondence to a shared set of curriculum standards ensures that educators are able to compare student performance across state lines, as well as assess which students are on track for college and career readiness – and which are not.  A common scale is an important tool for analyzing student performance and matching students to targeted resources.  As Appendix A of the Common Cores Standards in English Language Arts makes clear, the Lexile Framework provides an excellent way of determining the complexity of the quantitative dimensions of a text.  By accessing Lexile measures for both students and resources, educators are better able to match students to appropriate levels of reading material.  More than just a measure of growth, the Lexile measure provides classroom teachers something actionable: a way to get targeted materials in the hands of young readers.

Reading Between the Lines

Incoming freshman have already been warned of the long lines they’ll likely face as college students – lines for dorm showers, lines in the cafeteria, lines for athletic event tickets, even lines for the relative quiet of the library’s study rooms.  One line they may no longer have to stand in is the line for purchasing textbooks.  Breaking from the traditional pattern of purchasing textbooks from the campus bookstore at the beginning of the semester and then selling them all back a few months later, many students are finding new options.  Whether checking out textbooks from library reserves, purchasing used books from other students via the internet, purchasing online textbooks for a fraction of their traditional costs, or even using open-source texts, students are finding creative and cost-effective ways to obtain the course content they need.

As Eric Gorski of the Associated Press explains:

Like the music and media businesses, the textbook industry has been revolutionized by the Internet.  Although used books have long been an option for students, the Web opened up a world of bargain hunting beyond the campus bookstore.

A robust online marketplace of used books and recent inroads by textbook rental programs give students more options than ever.  The prospect of digital books and slow-but-steady growth in free online ‘open’ content loom as developments that could upend the textbook landscape and alleviate the perennial problem of rising prices.

As we’ve mentioned before, e-readers have been growing both in number and usage.   That ubiquity has not gone unnoticed. Many publishers have already begun the work of making e-content more widely available; and a number of retailers have developed business models around the idea that students may no longer be satisfied purchasing the materials they need from one expensive retailer.  Companies such as Chegg, BookRenter, CollegeBookRenter, and textbook publisher Cengage Learning, to name just a few, have all taken notice of this trend and are now renting textbooks directly to students.  Other companies have gone a step further and ventured into the open-source textbook market. (more…)

West Virginia Parents Encouraged to Help Students Build “21st Century” Skills

It goes without saying that parents want to do all they can to support their child’s academic success. But, sometimes, knowing exactly what to do can leave parents with more questions than answers, especially when it comes to interpreting their child’s report card.

This year, the West Virginia Department of Education is changing that. When parents receive their child’s WESTEST2 score reports this week, they will also get a supplemental flyer that explains where they can find their child’s Lexile® measure and how they can use that measure to support their child’s reading growth.

Dating back to 2008, students in grades 3-11 have received a Lexile measure on their report cards. (Students in the same grades also receive a Quantile® measure). The Lexile measure indicates the child’s reading level, enabling parents to select books that are the right fit for their son’s or daughter’s reading ability—not too difficult to frustrate the child, but not too easy to limit reading growth. (more…)

Lexile x DressHead Basic Black Pleated Skirt

Lexile x DressHead Basic Black Pleated Skirt – Fitted Waistband / Back Zipper

Every woman needs a basic black pleated skirt. Few garments are as versatile. This lexile x one is no exception. It is a cute, basic black flared skirt with large pleats. It has a fitted waistband and a back zipper. The top of the zipper has a single button closure. The fingertip length of this dress is definitely mini, and will make sure that your beautiful legs are noticed. The advantage of buying a skirt in this style is that it can camouflage any prominent figure flaws in the hip area. The cotton blend fabric is easy to care for and very durable. This skirt is always in fashion and will provide unlimited uses, season after season. It looks good with tee shirts, as well as with dressier blouses. You will love it! The pleated skirt is available for purchase in sizes Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large.

A Sweet Deal: Ice Cream & Books

The bestselling series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid (this series has an average measure of 950L), by Jeff Kinney, is set to release The Ugly Truth. This will be the 5th book in the series, which is published by Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams. Currently, traveling across the country to a library near you is the Diary of a Wimpy Kid ice cream truck tour. This is the second annual ice cream truck tour, which made a visit to 40 libraries throughout the US last year.

According to Wimpy Kid Truck Tour Offers a Sweet Deal in Publishers Weekly:

“The ice cream truck tour begins August 15 and runs through August 28. Each truck will have 26 events, with stops that take them up and down the East Coast and into the Midwest. One truck will visit bookstores in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois; the second will stop in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Ohio, Michigan, Ontario, and Vermont.”

 This tour will not only give out purple ice cream treats, which happens to be color of the new cover, but for every treat given away, Abrams will donate one children’s book to the nonprofit organization First Book.

“This is the best kind of promotion,” said Abrams president and CEO Michael Jacobs in a statement. “Ice treats for fans and booksellers, and more than 25,000 new books donated to First Book to help programs across the country serving children in need.”

 Click here to view the tour schedule on Abrams website.

Did You Write This?

Make of this story what you will, but it appears to confirm what many educators around the country have shared with us: plagiarism is not only getting worse, but is generally poorly understood by most students.  Universities around the country have reported increasing instances of students turning in work that has clearly been copied from other sources.  Many classroom teachers have reported that many students openly borrow from public sources without even bothering with attribution.

The Times argues that in an age of open information exchange, the line between one’s own work and ‘common knowledge’ may be blurring:

It is a disconnect that is growing in the Internet age as concepts of intellectual property, copyright and originality are under assault in the unbridled exchange of online information, say educators who study plagiarism.

Digital technology makes copying and pasting easy, of course. But that is the least of it. The Internet may also be redefining how students — who came of age with music file-sharing, Wikipedia and Web-linking — understand the concept of authorship and the singularity of any text or image. (more…)

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.