As it turns out, and I should have seen this coming a mile away, what is being mandated is another hour of INSTRUCTION at these schools. Not reading, instruction. If anyone knows the research from there 70s (and things have not changed much in the intervening years), more than half of the time kids spent in reading class was spent listening to the teacher. Only about 25% of the time did kids have the chance to actually read and practice their skills. Why is this problematic?
There is correlation between the amount of time spent reading and reading achievement. Allington noted, "Among all the ways children spent their time, reading books was the best predictor of several measures of reading achievement, including gains in reading achievement between second and fifth grade" (1986). Nor is Allington alone in his observations and in the research reported. And yet, here are thousands of kids who will not be subjected to more teacher talk, talk that will not include time to read on their own. Instead this is the reality of the "extra" time: "This school year in Florida, the 300 lowest-performing elementary schools are required to add an hour of reading instruction. A ranking determined by the state’s standardized reading test. It is estimated to cost just over $5 million dollars for the 20 traditional public schools required to add the hour in Orange County, the 10th largest school district in the country."
I think about the $5 million figure and think, what if we set aside 30 minutes each day for kids to read books of their own selection? What if we took that $5 million and spent it on books, libraries, librarians? What if we then "measured" this effect?
A side note here on SmartBrief: why post links to these stories without some sort of commentary? This publication is supposed to feature literacy learning. Yet all I see are links to stories without ever any indication of how literacy is being advanced. That bothers me. A lot.