50% of US Failing Literacy Test, or is
the test too hard? "Only 52% scored at Level 3 or higher. While
adults who score below Level 3 do have some limited literacy skills,
they are not likely to be able to perform the range of complex
literacy tasks that the National Education Goals Panel considers
important for competing successfully in a global economy or
exercising the rights and responsibility of citizenship."
Does that sound like Mark Tucker to you folks?
I've got news for you loop folks, the national literacy suffers from
the same problems as other "really hard" criterion referenced tests.
Only the top 5% of the popuation (about the number that go to
colleges like UC Berkeley, Ivy Leage or better) scored in the top
category, and these scores are evidently the same "higher order
thinking" skills that all these new tests take delight in inflicting
on unsuspecting parents and students. This is just about the only
test where, compensating for education, Asians did just as poorly as
blacks. A task might be to read a stock table, and then figure out if
the company is really going down the tubes, or assembling a
reasearch paper from a couple of charts and pages of text.
You folks really need to be wary of criterion based tests where some
pointy headed acacemic types get to decide "what skills will be
needed for the 21th century" and such crap. Another recent article
showed that about 50% of ALL developed nations were lacking in
such "high level" literacy skills, and it's got to make you wonder if
something is wrong with the standard when you've got a standard of
literacy that flunks half of the population when 95-99% of developed
nations can read or write at some level.
The kind of literacy we should be demanding is ond where average
citizens can look at these new tests and know that something
smells when experts say that everybody is failing.
------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date: Fri, 26 Dec 1997 12:44:01 -0800
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
From: The Riggs Institute
Subject: Re: School Board's and Parents responsibility (+a poem)
The points made in this posting are well taken - especially the wonderful
poem, but, we must remember that many more than 1/2 of these parents are
themselves victims of the system; many, especially parents of so-called
"learning disabled" students have also been told that it is their own fault
that their children do not do well in the system. Please consider the
following taken directly from the 1994 National Education Goals Report:
Building a Nation of Learners, pp. 41 and 42:
"Although literacy assessments of adults in the labor force and young
adults had been conducted in the U.S. prior to l992, the National Adult
Literacy Survey was the first nationally representative assessment of the
literacy skills of the entire adult population. NALS assessed proficiency
on three scales (prose, document and quantitative), and grouped scores into
five levels (5 was highest and 1 was lowest). Prose literacy tasks
required readers to understand and use information contained in texts such
as newspapers and pamphlets. Document literacy tasks required readers to
locate and use information contained in materials such as tables, charts,
and maps. Quantitative literacy tasks required readers to perform
arithmetic computations using numbers found in printed materials.
Because performance was fairly similar across the three scales, only one
scale (prose) is used to illustrate performance for this indicator. NALS
revealed that nearly half of all American adults read and write at the two
lowest levels of English literacy. Only 52% scored at Level 3 or higher.
While adults who score below Level 3 do have some limited literacy skills,
they are not likely to be able to perform the range of complex literacy
tasks that the National Education Goals Panel considers important for
competing successfully in a global economy or exercising the rights and
responsibility of citizenship."
The report went on to say, "Despite the fact that nearly half of all
American adults scored at the two lowest of five levels of proficiency,
nearly all American adults believed that they could read and write English
It is my own conclusion that many more than one-half of parents, and young
grand-parents and the workforce in this country are in the two lowest
levels of proficiency. Why? Because it isn't likely to be the above 65
crowd - the senior citizens who were mostly taught to read, write and spell
with sensible methods. These results must necessarily reflect the younger
side of those considered "adults" for this survey. Even though they've
obviously had better lessons in self-esteem, speaking out at school board
meetings or even discussing academic progress with their child's teacher
comes under the realm of not just parenting but of "exercising the rights
and responsibilities of citizenship."
We've taught thousands of homeschoolers across this country where one
parent or the other must learn right along with their children - and,
sometimes, it is both parents who have supportive grandparents or others
who came help them. Even those who do read very often cannot write, speak,
spell, think or put their thoughts on paper with proper grammar and syntax,
punctuation, capitalization, etc. Many tell us they've never had any
grammar, that they've never heard of diagramming a sentence, parsing the
parts of speech, learning phonetics for correct spelling; they know one or
two spelling rules (perhaps) nothing about syllabication, Latin and Greek
roots, prefixes, suffixes. How then do these people argue successfully
with those in charge of the public school system.
We've taught many adult illiterates most of whom have never had any phonics
of any kind nor are they "visual" learners which has been required by
publishing houses (remember, they are into selling paper with print on it)
since the early 30's. Not being a visual learner does not mean that
there's anything more wrong with one's intellect than someone who is tone
deaf or color blind. These are neurological functions having nothing,
whatever, to do with IQ. Yet, these people have been caused to think
themselves "dumb" or "disabled" or both.
I recall one special case of a "learning disabled" adult, age 49. The son
of a physician and five siblings all of whom had advanced degrees, this man
came to us at grade one levels in reading; he could not write or spell at
all. In six weeks (in a summer spelling camp with children, ages 7 and
up), he was reading the newspaper fluently and understanding every word.
In the 4th week, he was doing so well he enrolled in a teacher training
seminar in which we were training 41 professional teachers. At the end of
the class he addressed them to tell of his experiences as an adult
illiterate. He began by saying, "This summer I have learned that letters
have sounds. I never knew that before."
Another 25-year-old came to our office accompanied by the janitor from his
former highschool who had befriended him because "he couldn't learn to
read." He had become handyman with his own truck and tools. His worst
problem was trying to find the addresses of the people by whom he was
employed. He couldn't read the street signs. Once he was almost arrested
because he sat at a filling station for such a long time trying to figure
out whether it said self service or not, the proprietor thought he was
"casing the joint" for a pending robbery. He still lived with his
His janitor friend always helped him follow up on any possible opportunity
to learn to read and they'd already been many places without success
including the community colleges; he had graduated from highschool as a
total non-reader. He didn't have any money to pay the tuition for the
spelling camp so we exchanged some painting and fixing chores for his fee.
He learned to read, write and spell almost immediately and, in six months
had moved from his parents home and gotten a new truck. Later, a
free-lance reporter wrote a story about him and his janitor friend; when
she tried to get the Oregonian to print it, they were interested until they
found out that Riggs had exchanged handiman work for the tuition (we are a
totally self-supporting non-profit agency and we must pay our
well-qualified teacher tutors). They said, "Well, gee, couldn't he find
someone to do it for FREE?" He'd already been to the "freebie" groups who
get all the money and press already, but they had failed to teach him (I
think they don't know about multi-sensory instruction). So much for the
We found a private tutor for another young lady, a brand-new, totally
illiterate highschool graduate, age 18, who graduated totally unable to
read her own diploma. She learned 54 (of the 70) Orton phonograms in the
first 3 hour session and was reading at 6th grade levels in a few weeks.
She was then taken to be examined by the Supt. of the school system from
which she had graduated. He was a personal friend of her father. He was
completely amazed and said, "I will put this system into this school; this
is wonderful"! However, after the IRA and the NCTE people within his
system found out and practiced on their anti-phonics testimony for the
board, you know what happened. When boards are sued for these failures
(and a little of this is beginning to happen here and there), they may be
forced to become a little more knowledgeable. But, first we need to remove
the political constraints, like state textbook adoption, which relieve them
of their personal responsibilities.
Isn't this what the principle of subsidiarity is all about?
So, please, my primary message is: Don't be too hard on the parents who
don't come forward; perhaps they cannot. However, conversely, as my mentor
Oma Riggs would have said, as she fixed her eye firmly on the potential or
past offender, "But, then, there are those of us who do something
At 10:55 AM 12/26/97 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
>>The folks against me are very vocal, while the parents that agree with
>me and what I am trying to do, and these are usually well informed folks
>like those on this server, stand by and watch and wish things could be
>different. How sad it is for me, when I ask them to run for the board
>and come help me make change , and I get answers such as "its not worth
>the hastle" , or "you can't change things anyway".
>And then someone else wrote:
>>"I am the only parent to show up at any of these board meetings." or
something to that effect.
>In all the complaining about school boards and their 'willingness' to
>allow certain things to happen to our childre, we are neglecting to
>assign the blame to those others who have allowed it to happen:
>Why do I say the parents? Because just like the other person who wrote,
>in my area my husband and I were the only ones who bothered to show up
>for any meetings.
>If the parents 'cannot make the time' to go to these meetings, 'cannot
>make the time' to keep really informed about what is going on in their
>childrens classrooms, 'cannot make the time' to read through their
>childrens textbooks and/or journels, and can only 'find the time' to
>complain when something 'really bad happenes' then whose fault is it, if
>not theirs, for not finding the time?
>I am sure that those of our members that are on the boards, have like
>me, heard every excuse as to why parents 'can not make the time',
>'cannot find the time', 'have other proirities', or the most famous -
>'you speak so much better than us' excuses!
>Ask yourselves and your friends just what is more important? Is not
>your childrens education hence their future, more important than
>Time is so important to our childrens education or lack there-of.
>Time moves so quickly that before you know it your children are all
>grown and moved away yet you still see them as if they were little ones,
>for in our minds they always will remain.
>Here is a poem that I wrote to help me remember that even little
>snatches of 'time' are very very important.
>I hope that all of you had a very merry holiday!
>I hope that the New Year brings all that you wish for to you and yours!
>As I sit here on the floor, gazing at your face.
>With moonlight streaming from above, a silhouette you make.
>I do recall with sadness now, what I said to you:
>"Please wait. A minute now. I'm busy can't you see?"
>"I'll be right there. Do hold on. Just a few more please!"
>And so you waited patiently, for time to pass at last.
>How was I to know, that time would move so fast?
>The minutes turned to years you see, the moments never came.
>I missed the best years of your life, a minute at a time.
>You have grown and moved away, of that I had no say.
>You never asked, you just replied, "I'm busy can't you tell?"
>So I sit here on the floor, gazing at your face.
>This picture I am holding, wet with tears of horrid shame!
>By C.A. Carroll
>EDUCATION CONSUMERS CLEARINGHOUSE
Myrna McCulloch, Director, The Riggs Institute
4185 S.W. 102nd Avenue, Beaverton, Oregon, 97005
503-646-9459 fax 503-644-5191
http://www.riggsinst.org [100+ pages and two listservs]
"An Equal and OPTIMAL Educational Opportunity Through
Multi-Sensory Language Arts"
Now linked to by: http://www.indiana.edu/~eric_rec/ieo/bibs/phonics.html
EDUCATION CONSUMERS CLEARINGHOUSE