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Re: [xmca] Obama's Learn Act


So, in the long list of issues, the way in which early testing creates early
tracking which is very hard to undo
(see mehan on untracking, among others), CREATES inequality might be one
focused point of critique.
I consider Peg one of the world's experts on the pernicious effects of
phonics first instruction and the work of
Moll and Diaz on bilingual reading classes a strong demonstration of the
especially pernicious effects on
second language learners.

Cathrene-- might an organizational strategy be to annotate each item of the
legislation with well targeted
critiques backed by references to relevant research. Is that the sort of
thing you have in mind? (This is the form
that my question of Gordon took. It might provide an organizational tool for

On Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 10:45 AM, Michael Glassman <MGlassman@ehe.osu.edu>wrote:

> Hi David,
> Probably other people can fill in, but there are some early reading people
> in my department so I can offer you this from presentations and discussions.
>  Early literacy it seems to me is an umbrella term, and it can involve
> everything from the amount of reading material around the home to the amount
> of words a child knows.  Some early literacy stuff I think is good (when its
> explorative) and some not so great but I can understand.  The trouble with
> the approach to early literacy being discussed in the bill I think is its
> combination with testing.  If you are testing you are going to have teachers
> who are trying to achieve the highest possible scores of their students on
> their tests rather than really trying to make the students life long
> learners (a very improtant critique of programs like teach for America).
>  Early literacy testing is very much geared towards issues dealing with
> phonetics (recognition of words, size of vocabulary, ability to sound out
> word in reading).  This means that the early testing will push teachers
> towards both phonetics and direct instruction of vocabulary no matter what
> the circumstance of their classroom.  Because students from lower SES often
> times have fewer (middle class) oriented words in their vocabulary this will
> push teachers in those schools even harder towards phonetics and direct
> language instruction to the detriment of other very important aspects of
> early curriculum such as play (as a matter of fact in the early grades play
> has started to disappear in many schools).  This has already happened in the
> early grades where teachers are being judged more and more on how students
> are doing in comprehensive tests.  Now from what I can tell teaching
> phonetics does work at this level (say grades k-4), but as the curriculum
> switches from phonetics to comprehension it does not help and may even be a
> hindrance.  In the meantime important capabilities such as imagination and
> exploration have been sacrificed.  And school becomes a place of drudgery
> for the students, which I believe (no proof for this I think) will lead to
> higher drop out rates.
> They now want to assess younger children, babies through preschool.  They
> claim they only want to do it to determine intervention.  If this just meant
> children who scored lower will be placed in much richer environments with
> lower teacher student ratios and an emphasis on nutritioin this might be
> okay.  But there is nothing in the history of our society or the current
> field to suggest this.  Instead I believe these children will be labeled as
> behind from their earliest years and thrown into pre school classrooms that
> focus on teaching these basic abilities through phonetics and direct
> instruction.  Again, the teachers will be trained specifically in raising
> these abilities (as a matter of fact somebody I know just got a grant for
> this type of teacher training), and the teachers will also be judged on how
> these children improve on these assessments.  So not only with these
> children be labeled based on their inabilities to perform to middle class
> standards, but they will lose important and critical components of their
> early education.  And early longitudinal research suggests that this is all
> for nothing.
> Okay, probably went on too long.
> Michael
> ________________________________
> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of David Preiss
> Sent: Mon 12/14/2009 1:20 PM
> To: lchcmike@gmail.com; eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Obama's Learn Act
> Hi all,
> For those of us who are not American, could somebody explain what is
> the main issue that is at stake concerning reading instruction? I need
> more information to understand the debate, and I am particularly
> interested in learning more about pros and cons of early reading
> instruction. Is there anything new in that debate? The concerns about
> measurement are clear to me, but those related to instruction are less
> clear.
> Information will be appreciated.
> David Preiss
> On Dec 14, 2009, at 2:07 PM, mike cole wrote:
> > Gordon--
> >
> > What does your current understanding of that work lead you to
> > conclude vis a
> > vis the push to start reading instruction so early that appears part
> > of the
> > package of propositions being criticized?
> > mike
> >
> > On Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 9:03 AM, Gordon Wells <gwells@ucsc.edu> wrote:
> >
> >> I am somewhat afraid that this post may be seen as "purveying
> >> academic drivel for self advancement", as Mike puts it." But here
> >> goes.
> >>
> >> The second edition of *The Meaning Makers - t*he study of children
> >> learning to talk and talking to learn at home and school, based on
> >> the
> >> Bristol Study that I carried out a quarter of a century ago, has
> >> recently
> >> been published. As well as the original text, updated where
> >> appropriate, it
> >> contains three additional chapters that survey and comment on what
> >> has
> >> happened since the original publication. I do believe the evidence
> >> of that
> >> study is relevant to the ongoing discussion of the Learn Act.
> >>
> >> For those who are interested, here are the publication details:
> >>   [image: Jacket Image For]  *The Meaning Makers*<
> http://www.multilingual-matters.com/display.asp?K=9781847691989&search_text_01=Gordon+Wells&search_field_01=author&search_field_02=editor&search_field_03=ctitle&search_field_04=identifier&search_field_06=keyword&sort=sort_title&m=1&dc=2
> >> >
> >> * Series:*  New Perspectives on Language and Education
> >> *Author: * Gordon Wells<
> http://www.multilingual-matters.com/results.asp?aub=Gordon+Wells&TAG=&CID=
> >> >
> >> *Binding: *Paperback
> >> *ISBN: * 1847691986
> >> *ISBN-13: * 9781847691989
> >> *Pub Date: *01 Aug 2009
> >> *List price: *£19.95  *Discount:* 20%  *Our Price:* £15.96
> >> *US List price: *$29.95  *Discount:* 20%  *US Price:* $23.96
> >>
> >> ------------------------------
> >>
> >> Gordon Wells <gwells@ucsc.edu> http://people.ucsc.edu/~gwells/<http://people.ucsc.edu/%7Egwells/>
> <http://people.ucsc.edu/%7Egwells/
> >> >
> >> Department of Education
> >> University of California, Santa Cruz.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> > _______________________________________________
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> David Preiss
> ddpreiss@me.com
> Info Académica: http://web.mac.com/ddpreiss/
> Info Literaria: http://web.me.com/ddpreiss/Site_2/
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