Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Persistent 4th Grade Reading Level Myth

I came across this article, Born deaf, a Pinellas County girl starts school - and hears the school bell. Then one paragraph I read made me think "not again."
“Unfortunately, people who have hearing aides only, really can only get to a fourth grade reading level," said speech language pathologist Sarah Wilson. "You can't get very far in school with that reading level. Research has shown people with implants can go in regular classes, graduate from high school, go to college. So, the impact on education is humongous."
Those who have hearing aids only? Just WHERE do they get that kind of info? Either that's what the audiologist said at the interview or the reporter screwed up majorly in taking interview notes. There's plenty of those who have hearing aids and have gone through college and their reading level and English skills are pretty high.

Karen Putz wrote in her recent Barefoot in the Burbs blog It's Not What You Can Hear, It's About Attitude. Dang... Definitely attitude and then some!

Here's one more on the myth: A Permanent Breakdown in Communication. Some good points are made in there, but this line:
"Prelingually deafened children raised using ASL or another of the signed English systems (which keep trying to force ASL to be more like English) have roughly a 10% success rate at reading English (or any other traditionally spoken language) on grade level above the 4th grade."
I'm pretty sure the number is MUCH higher than 10%. I was reading at or above my grade level and was reading and devouring books pretty quickly. So much so that my two brothers complained at times that I was reading too much!

So let's quit stereotyping the so-called "fourth grade reading level" bull droppings myth. We're smarter than that.


Joseph said...

If educated with ASL as a first language, the number of literate Deaf adults parallels hearing children with English as a first spoken language-roughly 60% of hearing people read at or above the fourth grade level. Forty percent of hearing Americans were recently deemed to he unable to, for example, "locate printed information in text." Unfortunately, many Deaf children raised without exposure to language one way or another wind up like the other 40% of Americans-barely able to function at print level. This wikipedia article really opened my eyes. I think hearing Americans living in a house made of glass this thin, really should NOT throw stones. With numbers this bad, how can they possibly prove the problem isn't the curriculae they develop in the mainstream schools which educate some 90% of Deaf American kids?

Robert G said...

It could be the curriculum. It could be the teacher. It could be that the students aren't being challenged enough to develop their critical thinking skills and/or being challenged enough to go outside normal school times and do their own stuff.

There was something similar on the Eh? Huh? What? blog, but I can't find it.

I'm not hearing. I'm deaf myself. I'm still seeing too many deaf kids who can't even put together an understandable sentence. Or it looks more like ASL writing than English writing. By the time they get to college, they have to leave because their English skills still aren't good.

Alan said...

Robert--This is no different with hearing students. I've taught English to hearing students that have atrocious writing/reading skills. Saying that Deaf kids have lower reading and writing skills when their hearing counterparts are just as bad does not make sense.

Robert G said...

My apologies if I seem to focus on the deaf side. But they need to be able to communicate somehow with hearing people, through writing. Good English skills besides knowledge of ASL is an important thing to have. I can't tell you how many times I've wondered why there seems to be so much more emphasis on ASL than English skills when I see someone writing in "ASL English."

And yes, I've seen my share of hearing kids with absolute snotty reading/writing skills here on the internet and other places. Some don't even care, some don't bother using punctuation, etc. I had one guy literally rake me over the coals when I had a hard time understanding him and had to ask him some questions.

It's difficult if not impossible to get into college like that these days. You need good comprehension, critical thinking, and other skills just to get through classes. Sure, instructors see some with not so good English skills, but this is worse.

To add in to my response to Joseph, it can also be the family. If family members don't get involved in the educational aspect, then they're just as guilty.

It's a serious waste of good mind and possible talent. There's really no excuse.