Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Premier Preschool Produced Functionally Illiterate Adults

I've been meaning to link to this for ages.

Premier Preschool Produced Functionally Illiterate Adults |
In the United States, findings of national adult literacy surveys over the last thirty years have revealed tens of millions of adults whose literacy skills are poorly developed.

But rather than trying to address this problem through an extensive and intensive approach to adult literacy education, the major strategy has followed the homily that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Following this approach, we have tried to prevent the problem of poor adult literacy over the long run by improving the literacy skills of children in the K-12 school system. But [...] it has been argued that K-12 education is too late and that we need to improve children’s learning before they get to school. So over the years we have invested tens of millions of dollars in Head Start preschool programs for children 3 to 4 years of age. But since this has been found to not produce the hoped for long term improvements in cognitive skills, it has been argued that age 3 is too late and that we need to start with birth. So now we have committed billions of dollars to Early Head Start for children from birth to age three years.
The article is worth reading in its entirety. It goes on to debunk a major study which is used to justify Head Start. He shows that the study was deeply flawed. The best line in the article is from his fourth point on why the study is wrong:
instead of young adults taking the tests unaided, as called for in the administration procedures of the APL, in the Perry Preschool study, “the interviewer read each of the items to the respondent and could repeat them upon request”
So, on a test of literacy the test takers could have the thing read to them, and those successful results (!) have been used since 1984 to justify the massive spending on Head Start.

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