Tuesday, December 27, 2005

College Grads Can't Read

For at least a couple generations, prudent observers have opined that the American education system inappropriately allows students to advance without mastering subject material. Progressive educators responded by stating that achievement in rigorous curricula is less important than the students' self esteem and ability to work with others. The controversy will certainly continue even though a recent assessment indicates that "dumbing down" works. Less than one in three college graduates can read a book.

From WashingtonPost.com:
"It's appalling -- it's really astounding," said Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association and a librarian at California State University at Fresno. "Only 31 percent of college graduates can read a complex book and extrapolate from it. That's not saying much for the remainder."

While more Americans are graduating from college, and more than ever are applying for admission, far fewer are leaving higher education with the skills needed to comprehend routine data, such as reading a table about the relationship between blood pressure and physical activity, according to the federal study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Experts could not definitively explain the drop.

"The declining impact of education on our adult population was the biggest surprise for us, and we just don't have a good explanation," said Mark S. Schneider, commissioner of education statistics.
According to Schneider, the assessment simply determined the ability to read, not understanding complex subject matter.

In my opinion, the blame for the dismal results can be attributed to several factors. These include the practice of social promotion, the elimination or disregard for effective grading systems, the elimination or reduction of testing requirements, the dilution of core academic standards, and affirmative action. Simplistically, graduates can't read because it wasn't a requirement to graduate.

Companion post at Interested-Participant.