The new study by researchers at the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College, of 4th graders performance internationally in the areas of reading, math and science, as measured by the 2011 TIMSS (math and science) and PIRLS (reading) tests, reveals some interesting findings. Some you might expect; others not. The most important, at least for elementary teachers, is that in the highest scoring nations or regions (Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Finland, Hong Kong, Russia) reading was preeminent. Reading proficiency was a prerequisite to success in math and science.
Findings related to teacher practices in reading in these countries and regions are also worth noting. Teachers made sure they were easily understood, and that students knew what they were expected to do. They also made sure students LIKED what they were reading, they presented content in interesting ways, and they gave students interesting texts to read.
In this “age of the Common Core,” when I have seen classroom after classroom at the secondary level inundated with some of the most boring and poorly written “informational texts” on the planet, this “advice” from our counterparts in Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Finland, Hong Kong and Russia may well be worth heeding.