professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Figures can lie

Reading Renaissance has issued its annual report on reading. Forget that this is basically an ad for their canned approach to books and reading. It gets lots of press, and held spread a great deal of pseudo-research under the umbrella of its company's products. Here is a link to some of the nig=fty charts:

The first one is a variation of one I have seen for about 25 years. It has to do with the relationship between amount of time read and vocabulary acquired. But be careful here: these are not all unique words being read.

The second chart is so confusing. However, I do want to point out that the average bestseller, fiction or nonfiction, for adults will not net out to 9th and 10th grade levels. As for articles in USA Today, I do want to see those articles at 10th and 11th grade. I want to see how this was determined. There is a great deal of data here, but the sourcing of that data is not provided. Finally, the final "column" of this chart indicate it is what adults read. Again, sort of nebulous here. Since the latest report indicates the average American adult reads fewer than 2 books per year, I fail to see how levels and lexiles even matter.

The third chart indicates that, with more practice, scores rise. I am not sure how this is closing the achievement gap, but the basic facts are random and not really interrelated. Does more time spent mean higher rates of comprehension? How does this happen?

Finally, all of this data comes from the program. I would dearly love to see some stats outside of a company's product. Fancy charts are lovely, but give me insight into how this helps each and every kid in my classroom, please. Generalized statements about the efficacy of AR and other programmed approaches to "teaching" reading make for great headlines. I doubt they make for lifelong readers.

As a matter of fact, let's go back to that stat about how little adults read. I wonder if those disaffected, disinterest adults might just be products of programmed reading approaches, approaches that killed any bit of enjoyment for reading. Of course, I do not have the data to back me up, but why should that stop me, right?
Tags: data mining
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