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A few years ago a reading consultant in a large high school was given a problem to solve. Students in the school averaged two years above the national norms in reading performance, as shown by an all-school Nelson-Denny Reading Comprehension Test. Yet, social studies teachers and English teachers told the administration and the reading consultant that these students were not able to read their textbooks effectively, were in serious trouble on examinations, and did not seem to show clear understanding of the ideas presented for class discussion. Teachers who felt they had to maintain a certain minimum level of academic proficiency graded over a quarter of their students failures, thereby raising a rather sizeable amount of adverse reaction in students and parents alike.

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