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[Susan notes: Kudos to Steve Krashen for not letting the assertions claiming low-income thrive on kill drill go unanswered. The article showed that NCLB is creating an apartheid curriculum in the schools.]

Published in Oregonlive.com

To the editor

It is not clear that “Portland schools’ low-income

students thrive on regimented learning,” May 10.

According to statistics just released by the US Dept

of Education, for low-income third graders in Oregon

doing Reading First, there was only a 3% increase in

the percentage of low-income third grade children

considered “proficient” in reading comprehension

between 2004 and 2005. For all income groups, the gain

was 5%. This means Reading First is not helping

low-income children close the gap.

Low-income first graders in Oregon made more

impressive progress (16%, compared to overall 15%),

second graders somewhat less (10%, the same as the

overall gain). Apparently, the effectiveness of

regimented learning is less the longer children are in

the program. And we cannot even give Reading First the

credit for the gains in grades 1 and 2, because no

control group was used. It is possible that scores

increased for reasons other than addition regimented


Oregon used a different test in grade 3, and scores

were higher than in the earlier grades, which could

have affected the gains (ceiling effect), and it is

likely that not all third graders were in reading

First all three years of school, because of students’

moving and changing schools, but Oregon still cannot

state that low-income children are “thriving” on the

basis of this data.

Stephen Krashen

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