October 24, 2006

The WaPo Agenda

There is so much wrong with these two articles on reading in today's Washington Post, I don't know where to begin. I wish I had time today to give these scandalously inept articles the full fisking, but, alas, I don't. Maybe tonight.

I do want to note a few points now:

1. Lack of Balance. WaPo solicits two two whole language cultists, Calkins and Allington (he'll deny it, but in actuality he is), for their expert blurbs while failing to solicit a refutation from educators who actually know how to teach children how to read.

2. Irony: Note how the "experts" lament that kids don't read very well, but they fail to tell us that the main reason is that they are being mistaught how to read using "balanced" reading programs that are skewed far to the failed whole language side of the balance beam causing kids to mislearn the critical decoding skills.

3. Bad Definitions: In one of the articles our 'experts" define fluency to include lots of things (mostly vocabulary and reading comprehension) that do not fall under the scientific definition of fluency. They then proceed to create straw man arguments based on this faulty definition. Here's the proper definition of fluency. Here's how fluency instruction is supposed to be sequenced, contradicting much of the strawmen arguments laid out by the "experts." Here's how one fluency test, retelling fluency, used in DIBELS that assesses when students are reading fluently but without comprehension, demolishing another strawman.

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