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What Students in KS & MO Say About Their Education (Psst! We Don’t Read Enough)

Ask eighth-grade students in Missouri, and almost a third will tell you they read no more than five pages a day. More than a quarter of eighth graders in Kansas will tell you the same thing.

More than a third of students in fourth-grade and a quarter of those in eighth-grade in each state say the math they’re learning is too easy.

Those student insights come from Do Schools Challenge Our Students?a report released yesterday by the Center for American Progress. The subtitle is What Student Surveys Tell Us About the State of Education in the United States. And local responses pretty much reflect what students say nationwide.

Researchers with the Washington, D.C.-based think tank mined student survey data collected every two years when students take the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is often described as “the nation’s report card.”

“If doctors don’t want to listen to what patients say, shame on them,” researcher Ulrich Boser said today during a press conference introducing the report to the public. “If teachers don’t listen to what students say, shame on us.”

So what about those middle school students who say they don’t read more than five pages a day? According to reading experts, these young people should be reading at least a million words a year (which translates into about 20 minutes each evening). Otherwise their reading comprehension skills may suffer. And — sure enough — NAEP test scores in both Kansas and Missouri do seem to reflect the lack of reading practice.

Art Credit: KC Education Enterprise

Math scores on the NAEP are more problematic. Although many students in both Kansas and Missouri say their classes are too easy, students do not necessarily do well on the exam.

“There are a number of potential reasons for this disconnect,” the researchers write in their report. “Some of it might speak to technical issues such as a gap between local curricula and what’s being tested on the exam. It’s also possible that students do poorly on the National Assessment of Education Progress because they’re not challenged in school.”

One of the conclusions of the report is a call for more research into how to survey students and how to interpret the answers students provide. Although student surveys have been around since at least the late 19th century, the researchers contend adults don’t often think to ask students what they think about the education they’re receiving.

“Students are good observers,” researcher Rob Ramsdell said during the press conference yesterday. Of course, they do play games — particularly when not challenged or bored — and he added that it’s the job of adults to interpret student comments. Adults also need to take into account other sources of information about what is going on in school, Ramsdell said, such as test cores and classroom observations.

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Art Credit: KC Education Enterprise | Photo Credit: Dreamstime

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About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “What Students in KS & MO Say About Their Education (Psst! We Don’t Read Enough)

  1. I think this part of the study speaks volumes:’
    To be sure, students saying that math is too easy does not mean that math is, in fact, too easy for them. In other words, the data reflect how students perceive their work and not the actual rigor of their work. Indeed, while many students are claiming that their math work is too easy, they are not actually performing particu- larly well on math exams. Consider, for instance, that in math only 40 percent of fourth graders and 35 percent of eighth graders are performing at grade level on the National Assessment of Education Progress.22 There are a number of potential reasons for this disconnect. Some of it might speak to technical issues such as a gap between local curricula and what’s being tested by the exam. It’s also pos- sible that students do poorly on the National Assessment of Education Progress
    our findings | http://www.americanprogress.org 15
    because they’re not challenged in school. What’s clear, though, is that the current data don’t allow for an analysis of why this is happening, and far more research needs to be done to increase the understanding of what student perceptions tell us about their classroom experiences.

    Posted by Janet Reynolds | July 11, 2012, 2:34 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: What Some Local Students Told Me About Teacher Misbehavior in the Classroom: “We’re Bored” « KC Education Enterprise - July 11, 2012

  2. Pingback: What If Schools Were More Like Video Games? « KC Education Enterprise - July 18, 2012

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