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[Susan notes: Let Stephen Krashen's rallying cry be a model for us all. We MUST get this message into papers across the country. Children improve in reading in only one way: By reading a lot.]

Submitted to Los Angeles Times but not published

To the editor

California fourth graders’ low performance on a

national reading test in 1992 prompted a the adoptionof an extreme phonics-based approach, along with “tougher” academic standards. Now the Rand Corporation tells us that there has been no significant change in California students’ reading scores since the early 1990’s (“Study offers grim look at schools,” January 4). The Rand analysis shows that the high percentage of language minority students in California does not

account for the low scores. The report, however, fails to even consider the most obvious cause.

Research has confirmed that library quality is related to reading scores. California has the worst school libraries in the country and ranks near the bottom of the country in the quality of public libraries. Also unmentioned in the Rand Report is the fact that funding for school libraries has declined enormously in California - in 1992 we spent about half of the national average on school libraries, and now we spend

about 3%. Research also shows that the presence of a credentialed school librarian contributes to higher reading scores: California ranks dead last in this category as well, far behind all other states.

Children improve in reading in only one way: By

reading a lot. Without increased access to books, we can continue to expect dismal reading scores from California’s children.

Stephen Krashen

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