Friday, April 23, 2010

Environment, biology, and teacher quality?

Many debate and examine what aspects of a child's life impacts gaining literacy. . .

This study seems to suggest that genetics is powerful in learning to read but that teacher quality can have a positive impact.

Now, what we really learn is HOW research is reported, and how we fail to question that source of the evidence. . .Just what sort of test decides what "reading" is?

Here is one reply that certainly puts a different spin on things:

Submitted to Science

Taylor et. al. (Science vol 328, April 23) compared identical twins in different classes in grades 1 and 2. The twin in a class that made better gains on a reading test made better gains than the co-twin in the other class. This shows, the researchers claim, that instruction is a stronger force than genetics for learning to read.

The reading test asked children to pronounce texts rapidly and accurately, without necessarily understanding them. Reading is about comprehension, not pronunciation. Prof. Elaine Garan (2001, Phi Delta Kappan 82(7), 500-506) has shown that the kind of reading instruction that is aimed at improving pronunciation without understanding does not help children much on tests in which they have to understand what they read.

Reading is about understanding, not pronouncing. The Taylor et. al. study does not tell us much about reading.

Stephen Krashen

See Krashen's work at his web page; and note this excellent discussion of the reality about the impact of poverty: Remarks of Race to the Top (RTTT)