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NCLB Outrages

Columbus schools drop reading specialists for math, science focus

Ohanian Comment: If this means they stop presenting a deficit model of reading to children, this could be good news. I say this as a remedial reading teacher who scrapped the very idea of deficit reading and turned the reading lab into a place where children came to do science experiments. The pedagogy was based on David Hawkins' notion of "messing around in science," and the room was a very exciting place to be.

The reading test scores soared.

I admit I don't have much hope that this is what these people in Columbus have in mind, but one can always hope.

by Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The city's public schools will replace 183 reading-intervention teachers next year with math and science specialists to try and bolster proficiency test scores in those subjects.

"We're not de-emphasizing literacy," Columbus Public Schools spokesman Jeff Warner said. "We are adding emphasis to math and science."

The shift addresses students' scores on the Ohio Graduation Test last year, in which 72.3 percent of district sophomores were proficient in math and 48.6 percent made the grade in science. Comparatively, 82.7 percent of students statewide passed math last year and 73.1 percent passed science.

Eliminating the so-called "safety-net" reading teachers, most of whom were placed in elementary schools to work with children reading below grade level, could have unintended negative effects on students' proficiency in other areas, said Timothy Shanahan, president of the literacy group the International Reading Association.

"One of the reasons you don't want to (remove reading specialists) is, to do really well in math and science, you've got to be able to read," he said. "My hunch is they probably will neither succeed at what they're aiming at, and might undermine what they've been able to accomplish so far. I'd be surprised if it works."

Teachers applying for the math and science program receive 200 hours of additional training, paid for through government funds, Columbus Education Association Rhonda Johnson said. Training will begin this summer but might not be finished in time for the start of the new school year, Warner said.

Under the plan, fourth and fifth grade classes would be split into two groups, Warner said. One group will work with the specialist for 90 minutes while the second group receives reading instruction from their regular teacher. The groups then switch in the afternoon.

— Associated Press
Akron Beacon Journal


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