Education: RI shouts that 4th and 8th graders are proficient in reading*

*But the reality is far from what they would have you believe is the truth.

If you wish you can go the NEAP site and drill down for your state.

I’m going to focus on 8th grade students in Rhode Island since that is where I live. The reason I care about this is that when I get older these are the people that are going to be in charge and if they can’t read, I don’t think we’re going to be very well off since if you can’t read and understand what it is you’re reading, you will not be able to tell when for example corporations write legislation that benefits said corporations and not the people.

So first let us look at the overall RI scores for reading as opposed to National. RI is the lighter shade of blue on the graph:

RI Overall 8th Grade Reading compared to National
RI Overall 8th Grade Reading compared to National

Statistically speaking RI pretty much matches the national standards for 8th grade reading. The rates are abysmal btw. In other words a little less that 2/3’s of 8th graders on a national and RI level cannot read at even a basic level.

Where it gets more interesting is when you break RI down by racial categories, Black, Hispanic and White. A disturbing trend emerges.

RI Breakdown for Black 8th Grade Students
RI Breakdown for Black 8th Grade Students

How is it that 50%, or HALF of Black students are below basic reading skill levels in the 8th grade? This makes no sense whatsoever, ostensibly students speak English as their first language so how is it they’re failing at such high levels? Could it possibly be economic in nature, you bet your sweet ass that it probably is.

But more astonishing, look at the scores for Hispanic students.

RI Breakdown for Hispanic 8th Grade Students
RI Breakdown for Hispanic 8th Grade Students

They’re roughly the same as for Black students. Except some Hispanic students have the language barrier to break through. But even they’ve made some progress, a 9 point difference from 2007 to 2009, more interesting it the 5 point jump in at or above proficient.

If you want my opinion ESL is a joke. They give a child 3 years of ESL and expect them to be fluent in the language. I had three years of high school Spanish and I’m nowhere near fluent though getting better since I started studying Italian.

To expect that a kid is going to be fluent in 3 years is ludicrous.

And just for reference, here are the scores for white kids:

RI Breakdown for White 8th Grade Students
RI Breakdown for White 8th Grade Students

A bit over a quarter of white kids can’t read at a basic level. This goes to economic issues. So long as we have such a wide gap in income, we’ll have poorly educated children.

It’s almost as if this is by design. Imagine if all groups were above the 50% mark for proficient. It would be a very different world. And RI needs to tone down the accolades for itself. They’re doing a mediocre job at best.

2 thoughts on “Education: RI shouts that 4th and 8th graders are proficient in reading*

  1. Truthspew terrific post! Stan and I believe education is terribly important for our youth/nation’s future, and unfortunately support for it seriously lacking in this country. I think your statement about socio-economic status is key to finding why the results are the way they are. Kids who have economic advantages and have parents/guardians who can help push for the education of their young person, almost always reap better educational rewards. As long as we have vastly unequal soci-economic factors influencing large segments of our society we will only be putting band aids on deep, severe wounds. We can get there, but it will take a sweeping about face on the value of education, and a massive campaign to put money and resources where educators and parents hep their students/children most. Our infrastructure is in need(has been in need) of serious repair and education has to be part of the initiative.

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