Reading Skills and the Career Readiness Gap. ??Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships for ALL Students Reading Skills and the Career Readiness Gap A Study of High School Students’ Preparedness for College and Career

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Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships for ALL StudentsReading Skills and the Career Readiness GapA Study of High School Students Preparedness for College and Career Willard R. Daggett, Ed.D.Founder and Chairman, International Center for Leadership in EducationFounder and Chairman, Successful Practices NetworkJerry A. Pedinotti, Jr.Vice President and Lead Research Analyst, Tipping Point AnalyticsCopyrightJuly2014bySuccessfulPracticesNetwork.Allrightsreserved. 1 ReadingSkillsandtheCareerReadinessGapAStudyofHighSchoolStudentsPreparednessforCollegeandCareerTheworldweliveincontinuestoevolveandshowsnosignsofslowingdown.Whatthefutureholdsinterms of academics or jobs is uncertain and barely imaginable. Educators cannot assume that thetraditionalfocusoncollegepreparationorspecific jobtrainingwillbeenoughtoprepareourstudentsforwhatmay lieahead;our researchhas shown that it isnotenough. In fact, lifeoutsideof schoolrequires substantially higher levelsof reading proficiency thanmost students experience in thehighschool classroomandeven inpostsecondaryeducation.Thebestoptionwehave is to redefineandrestructureteachingandlearninginwaysthatequipstudentstodealwiththeunexpectedandadapttochanging circumstances. This will involve a level of retraining, not only in terms of professionaldevelopmentforteachers,butalsointheentireschoolcommunitysshiftinculture.Statesdefinitionofreadingproficiencyneedstoaccountfornotjusttraditionalacademicmeasuresofreadingcompetence,butalsotheskillsthatmakeindividualsemployableandsuccessfulintheirlivesbeyondhighschool.The implementation of the higher State Standards, Next Generation Assessments and ValueaddedAssessmentshasreenergized the focus toensure thatstudentsarebothcollegeandcareerready.Tohelp create anunderstandingof and establishnecessaryproficiency levelswithin the standards, theSuccessfulPracticesNetworkcommissioned theCTETechnicalAssistanceCenter (CTETAC)ofNYandTippingPointAnalytics(TPA)toconductastudytodeterminehowtheliteracyrequirementsfor11thand12thgradehighschoolstudentscomparetothetextdemandsthatatypicalentrylevelemployeewouldencounterduringhisorherfirstyearonthejob.Previousstudieshaveexaminedawiderangingsampleoftextsfrombothacademicandnonacademicenvironments.Prioriterationsofthisstudyhighlightedtheliteracychallengethathighschoolsface:theliteracy requirements of adults in their daily life, entrylevel employees, firstyear postsecondarystudents, and people in the military are significantly higher than the required levels of readingproficiencythatmosthighschoolstudentsexperience.Theprimaryfocusofthe2014studywastoseewhetherornottheliteracyrequirementsforentryleveljobshave changedover time. Technology and innovations in the global economy change constantly.Likewise,thetextsthatpeopleintheworkplaceneedtobeabletoreadandunderstandareshiftingand more so than in academic areas, which remain relatively static. Inspections of literature andtextbooksusednowand in thepastas instructionalmaterials inschoolsandcollegeshaveconfirmedthis.ThiscurrentstudybeganinNovember2013andfinalmaterialsubmissionswerereceivedinJune2014.Thisreportcontainsthereadingcomplexitymeasures,reportedasLexiles,ofallsubmissionsthatwerereceivedandanalyzed.Personaluseorjobspecifictextsthatwerenotwrittenwithstandardsentenceandparagraphstructurecouldnotbemeasured.However,thiswasnotatypicaloccurrence.CopyrightJuly2014bySuccessfulPracticesNetwork.Allrightsreserved. 2 TheLiteracyGapStudent learning styles, interests, and aptitudes are like fingerprints: no two are the same. In aclassroomsituationwhereateacherislecturingorthestudentsarereadingapassagefromatextbook,it can be assumed that only a fraction of the students are experiencing the appropriate amount ofinstructionalmaterialforthelessontobeeffective.Studentswhofindthe lessontoorigorousbecomelost anddiscouragedwhileother studentsmaynotbe challenged enough andbecomebored. Somestudentsmayhavenointerestinthelessonwhatsoever.Ideally,eachstudentwillexperiencemeasurableandsustainedimprovementfromclasstoclass,daytoday,andgradetograde.Bythetimeastudentgraduatesfromhighschool,heorshewillhavegainedtherequisiteskillstosucceedinthenextstageoflife,whetheritiscollegeorinacareer.Ifastudentcanstep seamlessly into thatnextphase, then theeducation systemhasworked for that individual. Ifallstudentscanmakethattransition,thenthesystemonthewholeissucceeding.Butthisisnotreality.Since the publication ofANation at Risk in 1983,which concluded thatAmerican schoolswere notpreparinghighschoolstudentsfortheirnextstageof lifeaftergraduation,the impetusforchangehascome primarily from pressure placed on elected officials by the business community and not fromhighereducation,whoseownslippingstandardsallowed formoreandmoredevelopmentalEnglishcoursestobackfillacademicdeficienciesamongentering freshmen.Businessand industrycontinuetofeelfirsthandtheskillsgapbetweenwhatstudentsareachievinginschoolandwhattheyactuallyneedinordertobesuccessful intodaysworkplace.Thebusinesscommunityhas long identified inadequatereadingabilityasa leadingproblemamongentrylevelemployees.Inthepast,manysecondaryschooleducators attempted to solve the problem by assigningmore reading,whichwasmostly prose. Theproblemwiththisistwofold:1. Prose isnot read inmostworkplaceenvironments.Literacy, in thecontextofwork, requiresbetter technical reading skills for understanding informational documents and quantitativematerial.Studentsneedtobeexposedtoavarietyoftexts,not justfromothercontentareas,butfromcareerandtechnicaleducationcourses,personaluseoradultrolestexts,andsampleoccupationalmaterials.Themoderndefinitionofliteracyneedstoencompassallthreetypesoftext:prose,document,andquantitative.Toooften, it ismaterialquantitative innaturethat ismissingfromastudentseducationalexperience.2. Assigningmore readingwillnotusually result inhigher readingproficiency.A student at acertain reading levelwill not improve his or her proficiency unless he or she is continuallychallengedbythetext.Astudentthatreadsatextwrittenatorbelowhisorherreadinglevelisnotbeingchallenged.Conversely,astudentpresentedwithatextwellaboveherorhisreadinglevelwillfind ittoocomplexandgrowfrustrated.Atextneedstobeslightlyaboveareadersabilityleveltochallengethestudentandpromotegrowthinreadingproficiency.Everystateinthecountry,whetherornotithasadoptedtheCommonCoreStateStandards,hasaddedtherequirementofCollegeandCareerReadytoitsstandards.TheshifttoincludecollegeANDcareerreadyhasbeenbothintentionalandconsequential.CopyrightJuly2014bySuccessfulPracticesNetwork.Allrightsreserved. 3 Traditionally,CollegePrephasbeenseenasarigorouseducationalprogram.Careerreadywasseenasarelevantbutnotnecessarilyrigorouseducationexperience.CollegeANDcareerreadyneedstobebothrigorousandrelevant.Therefore,transitioningfromthetraditionalparadigmofcollegeORcareerreadytocollegeANDcareer ready forall students requiresaverydifferent setof skillsandabilities. In thepast,collegereadymeantcollectingoraccomplishingaseriesofacademicmerits(e.g.,Carnegieunits,APcourses,ACTorSATscores),whereascareerreadyfocusedonacquiringtechnicalskills,participatingin a CTE program, or working toward a certification. With either focus, students were placed onmarkedlydifferentpathswithnoguaranteeofsuccess.The challengewe are facedwith today is ensuring that the factors thatmake students successful incollege and careers are the same: the ability to learn and apply new information, problem solve,communicateandcollaboratewithpeers,andcontributetothegreatergoodofsociety.Ifwecanfocusonteachingandthenmeasurethesemorebroadlydefinedcharacteristicsitwillbeabetterindicatorofwhetheragraduateistrulypreparedforasuccessfullifeafterhighschool.ThefocusofK12andhighereducationneedstomakeadramaticshiftfromwhatclassesstudentshavecompletedtowhatstudentsareabletodo.Collegeandpostsecondaryeducationneedstobeseenasameanstotheend,notjusttheendofastudentslearningcycle.StudentsinothernationsarequicklyoutpacingAmericanstudents,asoureducationsystemisfixatedonkeeping the status quo by adding new regulations and policies that are notmotivated by studentachievementandengagement.Movingtostandardsthataddressbothcollegeandcareerreadinesswillhelp us address this problem. Standards, assessment, and instruction remain critical parts of theeducationexperience,butanemphasisoninstillingasenseoflifelonglearningandengagingstudentsintheirowneducationwillensurethattheybecomeselfsupportingadults.TheLexileFrameworkforReadingThe Lexile Framework for Reading is a psychometric system formatching readerswith textsofappropriatedifficulty.This innovativeapproach to reading comprehension has been widely adopted andimplementedinschoolsacrosstheUnitedStates.Infact,theyarethemost widely adopted reading measure in use today. All majorstandardized reading tests and many popular instructional readingprogramsreportstudentreadingscoresinLexiles.Lexilemeasures,ascomponentsoftheincrementalLexilescale,allowformeasurementofbothtextdifficultyandreaderabilityonthesamescale.Thisenablesreaders to be appropriatelymatched with books that will be bothengagingandchallenging.TheideabehindtheLexileFrameworkforReadingissimple:ifweknowhowwellastudentcanreadandhowhardaspecificbookistocomprehend,wecanpredicthowwellthatstudentwilllikelyunderstandthebook.Forexample, ifareaderhasaLexilemeasureof600L(600Lexile),wecanforecastthatthereaderwillcomprehendapproximately75percentofabookwiththesameLexilemeasure(600L).WhenALexilemeasureisavaluablepieceofinformationabouteitheranindividual'sreadingabilityorthedifficultyofatext,likeabookormagazinearticle.TheLexilemeasureisshownasanumberwithanLafterit880Lis880Lexile.CopyrightJuly2014bySuccessfulPracticesNetwork.Allrightsreserved. 4 theLexilemeasuresandtheLexilescaleweredeveloped,the75%comprehensionratewassetatthepointwherethedifferencebetweentheLexilereadermeasureandtheLexiletextmeasureis0L.The75percentcomprehensionrate iscalledtargetedreading.Thisrate isbasedon independentreading; ifthereaderreceiveshelp,thecomprehensionratewill increase.Thetargetreadingrate isthepointatwhich a reader will comprehend enough to understand the text, but also will face some readingchallenges.Atthispoint,areaderisnotboredbytextthatistooeasy,butalsodoesnotexperiencetoomuchdifficultyinunderstanding.Findingsofthe2014LexileStudyAsleadresearcherofthe2014Lexilestudy,TPAreachedouttothefollowingorganizationsandentitiesforpossibleparticipationinthestudy: 62ChambersofCommercefromtheBusinessCouncilofNewYorkstate 47AssociationMembersfromtheBusinessCouncilofNewYorkstate 200plus superintendents, principals, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES)directors,andotheradministratorsandboardmembersfromNewYorkstate 28 school or district administrators from across the nation that represent a broad range ofurban,suburban,andruralcommunitiesEach participating group identified a pointofcontact to act as liaison to local businesses to providerepresentativesamplesofjobspecifictextsthatarecriticalforemployeesinentrylevelpositionstobeable to read for successful job performance. Appendix A lists all entrylevel occupationalmaterialssubmittedandanalyzed.A similar Lexile study was conducted in 2006 by the same research team commissioned by theSuccessful Practices Network for this newer round of research. The 2006 study was based onsubmissions from 75high schools across theUnited States. These submissionsprovided a varietyofreadingsamplesusedinhighschoolandlocalcollegeclassrooms(e.g.,literatureandtextbooks)aswellas readingmaterials found in their community, includingarmed forces texts,entryleveloccupationaltextsfrom localbusinesses,andpersonaluseoradultrolestextssuchastaxforms, insurancepolicies,andloanapplications.Thestudyhighlightedthereadinggap(asshowninFigure1).CopyrightJuly2014bySuccessfulPracticesNetwork.Allrightsreserved. 5 Figure1comparestheLexilemeasuresofhighschoolliteratureandtextbookstotheLexilemeasuresofreading required in college, the military, personal use, and entrylevel occupations, the gap inexpectationsisclear.ThereadingrequiredofhighschoolstudentsisnotadequatelypreparingstudentsfortheworldoutsideofK12education.Evenwithahighschooldegree,about30percentofpotentialmilitaryrecruitstaketheArmedForcesQualificationTest(AFQT)usedtodeterminemathandreadingskillsandfailit(Dilbeck,2009).Inspectionofentryleveloccupationaltextssubmittedbythe2014Studygroupshighlighttheneedforincreasing student reading proficiency across all families of texts. Entrylevel occupational readingmaterialsanalyzed for the2006nationalLexilestudyhadan interquartile range (IQR),orof1170L to1380L.Theentryleveloccupationaltextsfromthe2014Studyhadahigher3rdquartilemeasure(1425L),however,the1stquartilemeasurewaslowerthaninthe2006study(Figure2).ThewiderIQRin2014isan indicator that occupational reading is changingwith time and high school graduates have to bepreparedtoreadanyandallnaturesoftextwhileonthejob.Furthermore,itwouldbelogicaltoassumethatemployerswouldwanttheirprospectiveemployeestoeffectivelyreadandunderstandtheother25percentofmaterialsbelowtheIQR,aswellasthemoredemanding25percentabovetheIQR.CopyrightJuly2014bySuccessfulPracticesNetwork.Allrightsreserved. 6 Unlike the occupational texts, therewas little difference in IQR between the 2006 and 2014 Lexilestudies for the personal use texts collected. These items tend to bemore static in terms of theinformationtheycontain,althoughthe IQR isconsistentlyveryhighwhencomparedtoacademictextcomplexities and hasmedian Lexilemeasures that are comparable to entrylevel, jobspecific texts(Figure3).AppendixBliststhepersonaluseitemsanalyzedin2014.CopyrightJuly2014bySuccessfulPracticesNetwork.Allrightsreserved. 7 Therealityistheacademicskillsneededforcareerpreparationareactuallyhigherandfundamentallydifferent than thoseneeded forcollege.This isclearlyevident in the reading requiredofstudents inhighschoolliteratureandtextbooks.Lifeoutsideofschoolrequiressubstantiallyhigherlevelsofreadingproficiencythanmoststudentsexperienceintheclassroomandevenpostsecondaryeducation.Statesneed to be sure that the reading proficiency thresholds account for not just traditional academicmeasuresofreadingcompetence,butalsotheskillsthatmakeindividualsemployableandsuccessfulintheirlivesaftergraduation.UsingLexileMeasurestoAssessCollegeandCareerReadinessMetaMetrics,Inc.,developeroftheLexileFramework,recentlyupdateditsinterquartileLexilerangestoreflectStateStandardsqualitativeandquantitativemeasuresoftextcomplexity.Qualitativescalesareanchoredatoneendbydescriptionsoftextsrepresentativeofthoserequiredintypicalfirstyear,creditbearing college courses and inworkforce training programs. Similarly, quantitativemeasures shouldidentifythecollegeandcareerreadyreadinglevelasoneendpointofthescale.MetaMetricsrealigned itsoriginalLexileGradeBandstomatchStateStandardstextcomplexitygradebandsofreadingcomprehensiondevelopmentthroughthegradestodistinguishthatallstudentsshouldbereadingatthecollegeandcareerreadinesslevelnolaterthantheendofhighschool(MetaMetrics,2014).TheseupdatedrangesaretheStretchLexileBandinthetableshown.GradeBand Current(Original)LexileBand StretchLexileBand*K1 N/A N/A23 450L725L 420L820L45 645L845L 740L1010L68 860L1010L 925L1185L910 960L1115L 1050L1335L11CCR 1070L1220L 1185L1385L*COMMONCORESTATESTANDARDSFORENGLISH,LANGUAGEARTS,APPENDIXA(ADDITIONALINFORMATION),NGAANDCCSSO,2012MetaMetricsdescribesthemethodtounderstandingtheStretchLexileBands:TheStateStandardsadvocateastaircaseofincreasingtextcomplexity,beginningingrade2,sothatstudentscandeveloptheirreadingskillsandapplythemtomoredifficulttexts.Atthelowestgradeineachband,studentsfocusonreadingtextswithinthattextcomplexityband.Inthesubsequentgradeorgradeswithinaband,studentsmuststretchtoreadacertainproportionoftextsfromthenexthighertextcomplexityband.Thispatternrepeatsitself throughout the grades so that students canbothbuildonearlier literacy gains andchallengethemselveswithtextsatahighercomplexitylevel.LexilemeasuresandtheLexileranges above help to determinewhat text is appropriate for each grade band andwhatshouldbeconsideredstretchtext(MetaMetrics,2014).Basedon the tableandsubsequentdefinitionofStretchLexilebandsabove,11thgradersshouldbefocusedonreadingtextswithinthe11CCRLexilebandwiththehopeofbeingcollegeandcareerreadyCopyrightJuly2014bySuccessfulPracticesNetwork.Allrightsreserved. 8 by the time they graduate. Furthermore, students not at the lowest grade for a grade bandmuststretchtoreadacertainproportionoftextsfromthenexthighertextcomplexityband.Therefore,10thgradersneedtobestretchingthemselvestoreadinthe11CCRbandaswell.Figure 4 accentuates the need for reading literacy intervention in high schools and even in collegeEnglish literaturecourses.Only25percentofhighschool literaturebooksarewrittenataLexile levelthatexceeds960L,whichis225Llowerthanthelowerendofthe11CCRLexileband.Only25percentofcollegeliteraturebooksmeasuredabove1050L,whichis135Llowerthanwhere11thgradersshouldbeorwhere10thgradersshouldbestretchingthemselves.EvenhighschooltextbookshaveanIQRthatfallsbelowLexilebandfor11CCR.On theotherhand,entrylevel job texts,personalusereading,militarybased texts,andabouthalfofcollegetextbookshaveLexilerangesthatareconsistentwiththeStretchLexilebandforcollegeandcareerreadinessdepictedinFigure4.CareerReadinessforK12Toaddresstheliteracyrequirementsingeneral,andreadingrequirementsinparticular,andtopreparestudentstobecollegeANDcareerready,werecommendtheseactions: Createanawarenessprogramforfaculty,boards,studentsandparentsonthe increasingrigorofthereadingrequirementsintheworkplace.UsedatafromthisstudytopresentthisgrowingdemandtoincreasereadingrequirementsinK12.CopyrightJuly2014bySuccessfulPracticesNetwork.Allrightsreserved. 9 Provide focus and sustained professional development to K12 teachers in general, andsecondary teachers inparticular,onhow tobecomeeffective teachersofreadingwithin theirsubjectareas. Drivemorecareerreadingmaterialsandapplicationsintoacademicprograms.Itwillbecriticaltobreakdownthebarriersbetweendisciplines. Changeyourschoolsreportcard.Usetheresultsofthisandotherliteracystudiestotrackhowwellstudentsareprogressingsemesterbysemestertowardbeingcollegeandcareerready.Thechallengeofpreparingtodaysstudentsfortomorrowsworld inyesterdaysschoolswillrequireasustainedandfocusedeffortonallofourpartsifwearetosucceedasanation.Ifwedootherwise,thehumanandeconomicconsequencestoK12educationandourchildrenwillbetoodiretoimagine.For assistance in implementing any of these recommendations, please contact Bill Daggett atBill@LeaderEd.com.AppendicesAppendixAEntryleveloccupationalmaterialssubmittedandanalyzedAppendixBPersonalusematerialsanalyzedAppendixCCareerClustersandStrandsCopyrightJuly2014bySuccessfulPracticesNetwork.Allrightsreserved. 10 ReferencesDilbeck,J.(2009).UnitedStatesArmyAccessionsCommand,FortKnox,KY.PersonalCommunicationonMay14,2009.MetaMetrics(2014).TextComplexityGradeBandsandLexileBands.AcknowledgmentsTheSuccessfulPracticesNetworkwouldliketothankthefollowingschools,districts,BOCES,andotherorganizationsthattookituponthemselvestohelpobtainthematerialstocompletethisstudy: DuanesburgAreaCommunityCenter(NY) Erie1BOCES(ClarenceCentralSchoolDistrict,NY) Erie1BOCES(KenmoreTonawandaSchoolDistrict,NY) KingstonCSD(FALATechnologies,NY) GreeceCentralSchoolDistrict(NY) RochesterHearing&SpeechCenter(NY) LiteracyCoalitionofHerkimerandOneidaCountiesHerkimerAreaResourceCenter(NY) Monroe1BOCES(NY) OnondagaCentralSchoolDistrict(Junior/SeniorHighSchool,NY) OswegoCountyBOCES(NY) GSTBOCES(OdessaMontourSchoolDistrict,NY) CamdentonRIIISchools(MO) CityofGardenCity,USD457(KS) PetalSchoolDistrict(MS) ChateauEstatesElementarySchool(LA) SchoolDistrictofPickensCounty(SC)

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