Tabloid news - where kids and teachers don't measure up, and all the jails are full





One in every five boys found to be shorter than his friends.
Growth experts to be consulted.


Here's a scary statistic - or, at least, a statistic that's meant to scare you:

One in four Canadian children who enter Grade 1 is significantly behind his or her peers and poorly prepared to learn. This statistic demonstrates the need to improve support for early learning.

Want to know something even scarier? Roughly one out of two children aged 6 to 7 - that is, a full half - fall below the median performance for their peer group.

If you look at a variety of performance indicators for younger children - say, kids ages 3 to 5 - you will find that, in general, 25% score among the lowest quarter of performers!

Yet more alarming, about one out of every three PhD holders lags behind two-thirds of their peers in their ability to understand mathematics, statistics, and the normal variation in learning and development of children under age eight.


In other news, apparently one out of every thirty-seven Americans is in jail!



I know, I know. But read this:

This [national literacy] study was a five-year, $14 million study involving lengthy interviews of 26,049 U.S. adults statistically balanced for age, gender, ethnicity, and location (urban, suburban, and rural from twelve states across the U.S. and 1,100 inmates from 80 prisons) to represent the entire U.S. population.
That's 37 thousand Americans, randomly selected, of whom one thousand were in prison. That's, what... almost 3% of the population locked up? Maybe 8 million people? If this is true, they've got bigger problems than low reading test scores.

Of course, it's not true. And, it's worth pointing out that this same blog post offers a "Simple, Logical Solution" to low literacy in the U.S. They say - and, by the way, "Several distinguished scholars have thoroughly debunked all reasonable objections to this solution" - they say we can solve our problem by respelling all of English according to a new system called, wait for it... NuEnglish.

Why nuenglish and not nuinglish?

And how many scholars are several?



Ok. One more ridiculous story.

New Teachers ‘Lack Basic Skills’
Scottish newly qualified teachers lack basic skills, according to a leaked report

Ah, but that headline's not true - not according to the actual text of the story. The leaked report says some older teachers and heads (principals) think some beginning teachers aren't very good at teaching "the basics of reading” and don't have good "spoken grammar skills." The story doesn't say whether the older teachers also think their younger colleagues dress inappropriately, show poor taste in friends and eat their food too quickly, but we can guess.

Well... this news report is from the Express in the U.K. For those who don't know, the Express is a tabloid. It's just a cut above supermarket fare like The Globe, The National Enquirer or Star. Like them, it sells sensationalism and gossip, exaggerations and scandals (though only of a right-wing flavour). Consequently, the headline doesn't much surprise me.

What did surprise me was finding a link to the Express story under the headline "Study finds new teachers in Scotland lack basic literacy skills" (italics added) in NALD's weekly update for August 9, 2010.

Notice the insertion of the term "literacy" into the Express headline, and the loss of the qualifying quotation marks. Does that mean NALD is also becoming a tabloid?

Gosh, I hope not. I hope they're better than that.

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