Originally published January 12 2015
Average college freshmen can't read past 7th grade level, study finds
by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
(NaturalNews) Institutional learning is available after high school, in the form of a college education, but it comes with a much higher price tag. Sadly, after 12 years of institutional learning, most college freshmen can't even read past a seventh grade level. This is the most concerning finding from Renaissance Learning's newest report investigating what American students read in grades 9-12.
It's apparent: All those years of a public education taught students merely how to get by. These years hardly inspire students to seek knowledge and skills out on their own. Without even realizing it anymore, public school systems teach dependency instead of self-sufficiency. When it comes time to learn and work in the real world, students are still stuck reading below a seventh grade level. Somewhere along the way, the ambition to expand vocabulary, read and learn had died. Sometime in grade school, cognitive function for assimilating new information peaked and all drive to learn was lost. The A-F grading scale tried to gauge student progress and propel the student body forward, but this system failed to inspire.
Now one must ask, "How can an overpriced four-year college degree help advance the learning process if it is modeled after the same failed institutional learning standards of the previous 12 years?" Do college freshmen suddenly learn to read beyond a seventh grade level once they start taking college classes or are they just there trying to figure out who they are and what they want to do with themselves?
The environment which adolescents are thrust into for up to 12 years is one of social conditioning. Students learn how to copy notes and paste them onto tests. Students learn how to memorize key facts out of a textbook only to forget them a day later. It's all about getting by, not inspiring students to reach for their heart's desires, not helping them find their passion in life.
It's the equivalent of taking a hula hoop and using it as a gauge for children to crawl through. It's like forcing a giraffe, elephant and a mouse through a hula hoop standard. Children of different creative talents, interests and ambitions are forced through the hole regardless. It doesn't work. It doesn't encourage ambitious readers. It doesn't inspire seekers of knowledge. It creates conformity and the idea that everyone must obey the rules to get by.
When it comes to living in this universe after high school, obeying the rules just to get by suppresses the entire soul of a person, but that's what everyone has been taught to do growing up in a public education system. That's why college students' reading levels are at an all-time low. Many liberal arts college degree programs are just over-glorified high school educations, with a much higher price tag.
Recent efforts to amend public school curriculum have only standardized the education process even more, beating out every last desire of students to learn. According to education expert Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who worked on the Common Core Validation Committee in 2009-2010, new education standards are "inferior" and achieve very little for advancing science, technology, engineering and math.
Reporting to Breitbart Texas, Stotsky said, "The average reading level for five of the top seven books assigned as summer reading by 341 colleges using Renaissance Learning's readability formula was rated 7.56 [meaning halfway through seventh grade]."
On top of that, the study found that most high school graduates in America don't even work with mathematics past the eighth grade level, which pales in comparison to other high-achieving countries. Additionally, Renaissance Learning found that there is a lack of "difficulty and complexity" in high school reading material and it's the same kind of reading material assigned to those entering college.
While Stotsky recognizes the failure of today's public education system, she believes more standards are the answer forward. While working for the Massachusetts Department of Education, Stotsky was credited for creating the strongest set of K-12 academic standards in the country. She was part of implementing new federal Common Core standards. While professionals like Stotsky mean well, maybe it's not a standardized system that students need. Maybe they need more inspiration, more freedom to learn. Maybe the construct of state and federal standards and the standardized testing model of learning is to blame for the suppression of the students' drive, their lack of inspiration to read, learn and gain new skills.
Maybe it's time to introduce a greater spectrum of learning in the classroom and outside of the classroom. Where are the books inspiring students to grow gardens? Is it time to let students get their hands a little dirty? Are there classes that encourage students to invent? These classes would inspire children to dig into new information and expand on ideas to come up with something of their own. Are there classes teaching responsibility and ethics, how to communicate in a very connected business world? There's a lot missing in the standardized education system. Wouldn't more freedom and exploration be the answer for a system that is producing college freshmen with reading levels that have peaked at the seventh grade level?
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