Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Letters to the Editor

October 6, 2013

Story on reading levels misleading

— — Regarding the recent story about 73 percent of West Virginia third graders deficient in reading: As a retired teacher I have a lot of problems with this article (and others of this type).

In the first place, reading level is defined as the point in a grade where half the students are reading above, and half reading below that level. To expect all of a class of third-grade students to read at third-grade level at the end of the year is to expect to carry moonbeams home in a jar.

In the second place, teachers can’t really teach anything (teach a rock?). The best anyone can do is to help a student learn. Public school is mass production. Given the number of students assigned, public school teacher’s primary efforts must be toward directing learning efforts of the group. The article did, at least, mention that there are factors involved in learning (vision, for example).

Last, but arguably first, people are people: they are not numbers in a digital file, nor machines, nor livestock. They have intelligence, and the ability to adapt. In my first year of teaching I learned that a student I had sent to the office for a disciplinary problem had been dismissed. I felt bad about that until I later encountered him on the street. He was working as a roofer, enjoyed his job and was making more money than I was. There are a lot of problems, for sure. But articles like the one referenced are misleading, They don’t help.

Joe Hall


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