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From the New York Times opinion page:

There Is a Right Way to Teach Reading, and Mississippi Knows It
The state’s reliance on cognitive science explains why.

By Emily Hanford
Ms. Hanford is the senior education correspondent for APM Reports.

Dec. 5, 2019

“Thank God for Mississippi.”

That’s a phrase people would use when national education rankings came out because no matter how poorly your state performed, you could be sure things were worse in Mississippi.

Not anymore. New results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a standardized test given every two years to measure fourth- and eighth-grade achievement in reading and math, show that Mississippi made more progress than any other state.

The state’s performance in reading was especially notable. Mississippi was the only state in the nation to post significant gains on the fourth-grade reading test. Fourth graders in Mississippi are now on par with the national average, reading as well or better than pupils in California, Texas, Michigan and 18 other states.

What’s up in Mississippi? There’s no way to know for sure what causes increases in test scores, but Mississippi has been doing something notable: making sure all of its teachers understand the science of reading.

Basically, teach kids phonics. Sure, smart kids tend to be whole word readers (e.g., I barely read the last half of words. For example, experienced readers don’t really need to read the entire word “Mississippi” to recognize it. But new readers need phonics instruction to learn how to decode that famously long stretch of letters). But not everybody is smart, so teachers need to teach phonics, even if it’s tedious to do so. It seems to be working in Mississippi.

On other hand, Mississippi’s NAEP scores seem to have gone up about as much in math as they have in reading. Since 2011, Mississippi’s fourth grade reading scores have gone up 10.94 points relative to the whole country, but Mississippi’s math score has also gone up 10.94 points.

It could be that Mississippi has also figured out a better way to teach math as well as reading. Or maybe they just figured out a better way to score high on the NAEP? So I dunno what’s really going on …

If I have an extremely technical question involving baseball statistics, I can almost always find somebody on the Internet who has answered the question previously, and in convincing detail. In contrast, I’ve been wondering for over a decade why Texas badly outscores California on the NAEP (even though they have similar ethnic demographics)? Is it for real or is something going on involving the test? But that question remains murky because Americans don’t devote as much intelligence and skepticism to thinking about massive public policy questions as they do to thinking about baseball statistics.

UPDATE: iSteve commenter Col Reb Sez points out that Mississippi has installed a “gate” to keep low-scoring third graders from being promoted to fourth grade, where they would take the NAEP. From the Clarion Ledger:

‘I don’t want to fail, Mom.’ Bar raised for third graders taking reading test.
Jeff Amy, Associated Press Published 4:28 p.m. CT April 20, 2019

Mississippi is one of 16 states nationwide that demand third graders pass or flunk.

Mandatory retention policy remains controversial nationwide.

Schools will get scores in early May and students will re-test in mid-May.

Mississippi has long flunked the largest proportion of young students nationwide.

JACKSON — More than 35,000 Mississippi third graders sat down in front of computers this week to take reading tests, facing a state mandate to “level up” or not advance to fourth grade. But with the bar set higher this year, state and local officials expect more students will fail the initial test, even with efforts to improve teaching.

Mississippi is one of 16 states nationwide that demand third grade students pass a reading score threshold or flunk. Nevada and Michigan plan to impose such requirements in the next two years, and Alabama lawmakers are considering one.

The mandatory retention policy remains controversial nationwide. Experts agree students who flunk a grade are more likely to drop out. While third-grade reading policies typically call for intensive remedial work for students who are held back, one study found the boost helps for a while but eventually fades.

When the Magnolia State implemented its requirement in 2015, students only had to reach the second, or basic, level on a state test scored in five tiers. This year, the state is raising the bar, saying students must reach the third level.

This helps explain why analyzing baseball statistics is so much more popular than analyzing education statistics. There is always something new happening with baseball statistics, but education statistics not so much.

 
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  1. Phonics is another one of those A -> B -> A -> B situations. It’s about time phonics made a return.

    • Replies: @njguy73
    I have been known to go on long rants about how the "look-say" or "whole word" method has been a crime against literacy, a crime against intelligence, and a crime against humanity.
  2. When I see test scores go up I always think deception and fraud. Am I a cynic or a realist?

    • Agree: Kronos
    • Replies: @Kronos
    Cynicism is generally a good bet often regardless of occasion. But in terms of grades/tests? Yeah, fraud fits very well with this kind of puff piece. It’s essentially been “Achilles and the Tortoise” since 1954.

    https://youtu.be/rUg5LmGTOu0
    , @syonredux

    When I see test scores go up I always think deception and fraud. Am I a cynic or a realist?
     
    CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision.

    Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
    , @Bard of Bumperstickers
    “The most erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.”

    ~ H.L. Mencken

    , @Neoconned
    Like me, you're both.

    Like when Epstein was suicided I immediately as Sean Connery would say "smelled a rat...."
    , @MikeatMikedotMike
    I think "what are the demographic shifts in those time spans?" as well.
  3. It’s a good thing that Mme B’s uncle, who lived in Bella Vista, Arkansas, has gone to his reward. “Thank God for Mississippi” was his standard reply to Arkansas’ place in national rankings of just about any quantity.

    • Replies: @Paleo Liberal
    I grew up in nearby Fayetteville. And yes, we used “Thank God for Mississippi “ there. In the old days, Arkansas was ranked 49 in just about everything.

    The educational reforms during Clinton’s time as governor raised Arkansas all the way to around 45 or 46 Some is that was a real improvement in the state’s schools. Some of that was more families from states closer to Canada moving to Arkansas.
  4. That’s all HBD means to me: Teach them differently, phonics, spelling, and multiplication tables. “Drill and kill” at least makes you feel like you’re learning something.

    And less “conceptual” crap that is so intriguing – to people who *already* have mastery and like to gas about theory.

    IOW, don’t let snotty 13 year olds dictate curriculum.

  5. “Thank God for Mississippi.”

    That’s a phrase people would use when national education rankings came out because no matter how poorly your state performed, you could be sure things were worse in Mississippi.

    It’s true. This is a real saying, especially in South Carolina and Arkansas, even though Arkansas would occasionally be worse.

  6. Homogenization of popular culture has allowed Mississippi to progress to the mean. I don’t know what it’s like being a kid in 2019, but I’m sure that most of them sit inside all day and flip through their smart phones. With the dominance of the internet as an information medium and a world of varied content opportunities at their finger tips, most of them are probably paying attention to pretty much the same thing. Or at least in aggregate kids in California, Texas, Michigan, and Mississippi are paying attention to the same things. America’s public school ciriculum has been mostly homogenized since the progressive era. There’s isn’t anything magic or tragic about the mud in the Mississippi delta. In the 21st century, why shouldn’t Mississippi test scores progress to the mean?

    • Replies: @AnotherDad

    There’s isn’t anything magic or tragic about the mud in the Mississippi delta. In the 21st century, why shouldn’t Mississippi test scores progress to the mean?
     
    Because Mississippi is 40% black.
    , @Neoconned
    I have an Asian American acquaintance who is from Greenville. Her family owns or owned a restaurant near there.

    After college she bolted for Texas. The few who do have brains in the Delta don't hang around after college.
  7. … e.g., I barely read the last half of words. For example, experienced readers don’t really need to read the entire word “Mississippi” to recognize it.

    Rounding up half the letters per word, Sailer method:

    … e., I bar rea th la ha o wor. Fo exam, experi read do rea ne t re th ent wo “Missis” t recog i.

    I don’t know, it seems kind of choppy. Yo mile ma va. Diffe stro fo diffe fol.

    • Replies: @Morton's toes
    If you read the good stuff you learn to enjoy lingering on all of each word and feel no impulse to get through the stuff as quickly as possible.

    I appreciate that Sailer plows through all this crap and digests it for our painless consumption! Those links he posts I almost never ever would click on. Also baseball statistics are fun to analyze ad infinitum because (for some) it is a great game that is endlessly fascinating and we love it.

    Surely some person somewhere loves poring through educational statistics but boy is that guy an outlier.
    , @Jon
    Kind of reminds of this one that makes the rounds every few years:

    I cnduo't bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.
     
    https://www.ecenglish.com/learnenglish/lessons/can-you-read
  8. @anon
    Phonics is another one of those A -> B -> A -> B situations. It's about time phonics made a return.

    I have been known to go on long rants about how the “look-say” or “whole word” method has been a crime against literacy, a crime against intelligence, and a crime against humanity.

    • Replies: @JosephB
    A possible benefit of the internet is there may be fewer cycles in the future, or they may be smaller. Circa 15 years ago I was involved in the reading community, and pretty much everyone agreed phonics was a necessary ingredient for success for many learners. The debate was around what percentage of the instruction needed to be phonics. At some point this info will be more mainstream, and it will be harder to convince parents and the next generation of teacher trainees that kids learn just by looking at the word ("Hey, I just googled and the director of reading of Major University says it's nonsense that...").

    Maybe I'm an optimistic.
  9. Steve:

    Remember the “Hooked On Phonics” program that some time ago was torpedoed by the education establishment in tandem with its NBC handmate? So maybe it’s one more example of what’s old again is what’s new again!

    • Replies: @Charon

    Remember the “Hooked On Phonics” program that some time ago was torpedoed by the education establishment
     
    Still better than "Hooked on Ebonics"
  10. @Jenner Ickham Errican

    … e.g., I barely read the last half of words. For example, experienced readers don’t really need to read the entire word “Mississippi” to recognize it.
     
    Rounding up half the letters per word, Sailer method:

    … e., I bar rea th la ha o wor. Fo exam, experi read do rea ne t re th ent wo “Missis” t recog i.
     
    I don’t know, it seems kind of choppy. Yo mile ma va. Diffe stro fo diffe fol.

    If you read the good stuff you learn to enjoy lingering on all of each word and feel no impulse to get through the stuff as quickly as possible.

    I appreciate that Sailer plows through all this crap and digests it for our painless consumption! Those links he posts I almost never ever would click on. Also baseball statistics are fun to analyze ad infinitum because (for some) it is a great game that is endlessly fascinating and we love it.

    Surely some person somewhere loves poring through educational statistics but boy is that guy an outlier.

  11. @Jenner Ickham Errican

    … e.g., I barely read the last half of words. For example, experienced readers don’t really need to read the entire word “Mississippi” to recognize it.
     
    Rounding up half the letters per word, Sailer method:

    … e., I bar rea th la ha o wor. Fo exam, experi read do rea ne t re th ent wo “Missis” t recog i.
     
    I don’t know, it seems kind of choppy. Yo mile ma va. Diffe stro fo diffe fol.

    Kind of reminds of this one that makes the rounds every few years:

    I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.

    https://www.ecenglish.com/learnenglish/lessons/can-you-read

  12. How probable is it that being better readers also boosted the math scores? I can see it helping directly with word problems. Could it also bleed over to equations?

    • Replies: @Kronos
    It’s a interesting question. Maybe it’s cultural immersion of various math symbols into baseline activist society? (AKA outside of math class.)

    The “Woke” typically can’t do math (at least well) but the talk about “inequalities” and this pro-gay symbol might have an impact. Though the best means of testing math proficiency is to ask point blank to a kid (no advance notice) what’s a polynomial, a linear equation, and slope-intercept form? The question(s) cover more content than ability but it works. If the kid pisses his pants there’s trouble.

    https://i.pinimg.com/736x/1c/07/ed/1c07ed8501d3a72f3c405b8ea1f3cea5.jpg
  13. @Whitney
    When I see test scores go up I always think deception and fraud. Am I a cynic or a realist?

    Cynicism is generally a good bet often regardless of occasion. But in terms of grades/tests? Yeah, fraud fits very well with this kind of puff piece. It’s essentially been “Achilles and the Tortoise” since 1954.

    • Replies: @Charon
    Something similar happened in Washington D.C. Swept under the rug because, well, you know.
  14. because Americans don’t devote as much intelligence and skepticism to thinking about massive public policy questions as they do to thinking about baseball statistics.

    Because smart Americans perceive the low level of analytical competence that is the foundation of massive public policy decisions, so why bother? OTH, for many, baseball statistics is a hobby with interesting and enthusiastic debaters.

  15. For gods sake, English is a phonetic language. The ONLY sensible way to teach it is via phonics. Whole word is basically teaching English as if it were Chinese.

    The departure from phonics is all you need to know to understand that our education establishment needs to be burned to the ground and every “education” professor jailed for life and made to break rocks.

    It’s idiocy at a level that’s genuinely incomprehensible. Which is why I think it’s deliberate sabotage.

    • Agree: ben tillman, kikz
    • Replies: @Peter Akuleyev
    English is a phonetic language.

    Are you trolling? English uses an alphabet but the writing system is not phonetic. Which is why I didn‘t write „thu raiting sistem iz nat fonetik.“

    English is written with archaic and borrowed spellings that make English in many ways closer to Chinese than to a language like German, which is still mostly phonetic.

    That is not a bad thing in a lot of ways. It has allowed the many dialects of English and American to use the same writing system and increased the influence of the Anglosphere. If American were written phonetically we would ride „chrainz“ and „chrucks“.
    , @Torn and Frayed
    You are dead wrong -- English orthography is highly non-phonemic.
  16. This article does not mention that Mississippi recently adopted a third-grade test “gate” so that students who could not read could not advance to fourth grade. So of course reading scores will be higher, since children who cannot read are not in fourth grade to take the test!

    This is not to say I don’t approve of the policy. I support the use of phonics. But no magic wand has been created.

    • Agree: ben tillman
    • Replies: @bomag

    Mississippi recently adopted a third-grade test “gate”
     
    In 2015, per Steve's linked article.

    Which doesn't correspond well with the score rise, but maybe they were doing other such things.

    , @Paul Jolliffe
    Of course.

    The new, improved test results are merely the "selection effect" in action.

    I'll bet the method of reading instruction made no significant difference (even though I myself agree with teaching Phonics) relative to the importance of the cognitive ability of the test takers.

    Give me smarter test takers, and I'll give you better scores!
  17. “I barely read the last half of words.”

    But how were you taught to read?

    • Agree: ben tillman
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    I dunno.
  18. @Peterike
    “I barely read the last half of words.”

    But how were you taught to read?

    I dunno.

    • Replies: @Peterike
    “I dunno.”

    Did a teacher ever say “sound it out”?
  19. @Kronos
    Cynicism is generally a good bet often regardless of occasion. But in terms of grades/tests? Yeah, fraud fits very well with this kind of puff piece. It’s essentially been “Achilles and the Tortoise” since 1954.

    https://youtu.be/rUg5LmGTOu0

    Something similar happened in Washington D.C. Swept under the rug because, well, you know.

  20. @Dan Hayes
    Steve:

    Remember the "Hooked On Phonics" program that some time ago was torpedoed by the education establishment in tandem with its NBC handmate? So maybe it's one more example of what's old again is what's new again!

    Remember the “Hooked On Phonics” program that some time ago was torpedoed by the education establishment

    Still better than “Hooked on Ebonics”

    • LOL: Dan Hayes
    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
    Then, there's the US Bureau of Labor Statistics - Hooked on Hedonics.
  21. the departure from phonics exists for many reasons, but one main one now is: “reading programs” without phonics have the entire market share of classrooms, and current teachers don’t know any phonics to teach. Publishers made money convincing teachers and admins they don’t need to teach phonics. phonics is boring, but more: phonics immediately differentiates the students into the capable and incapable. teach phonics to an iq 115 child and they need 3 repetitions to learn the pattern, but the 85 child needs 300.

    Because children learn to read by mapping sounds they already know to symbols on a page, already knowing 100,000 words vs 10,000 gives you too big an advantage to make the kinder or grade 1 classroom viable for a teacher. the 6 year cognitive/achievement spread is too big.

    much better instead to teach whole language, have kids guess based on pictures, and then the bright kids can’t learn too much and the dumb ones leave your k-2 classroom before anyone labels them as Tier 2 or tier 3 or learning disabled.

    every curroxulum decision is driven by the goal of hiding the gap. every one.

    But laxk of phonics has a lot of negative effects. while high iq children may teach themselves to read without phonics it “explode the phonics code” themselves, average and even above average students can only succeed at whole language/word guessing by context until grade 4, after which lack of content knowledge sinks them. They cannot distinguish “notice” from “notarize” let alone “chemical” from “chemistry” . they do not figure it out by “feel” or “how it sounds” because their markov chain of possible grammatical constructions doesn’t contain these kinds of sophisticated forms or sentences. so when you look at the longitudinal percentile curves for achievement in grades 2-12, basically reading scores flatten for the average in 4th and never rise again after 6th for anyone below the 95%ile, and even they level off. our smart kids can no longer read. it’s a huge prohlem. math, by contrast has growth over all 12 years for the top kids.

    there’s a lot that can be learned re why reading increases math scores, but short version is math problems are now heavily interpretive and reading based narrative story problems. the reason for this goes back to the feminization if education. there aren’t any straight equations or computations on the NAEP.

    the reason you can’t find nerds to tell you about data differences in education while you can in baseball is because states hide the darn data. just try to find school level data that shows individual scores per classroom, even oer school, and no just means. try to find the actual number of students reading proficient or partially proficient. try.

    ed schools don’t have data and don’t get data. there are lots of terribly interesting questions no one thinks to ask.

    but if you can get someone inside a school to show you the data with the names removed but allowing correlation scross classrooms, then you can what’s really going on. my guess is texas is still teaching english to its mexican-american kids and CA isn’t. but even finding the data on a basic question like “is it better to teach math in English to kids who speak spanish but not english at home”, there’s apparently zero research and no data. you’d think basic questions like efficacy would be looked at. nope. doesn’t exist. no one had asked. no one is answering. it’s all cultural Marxism all the time. the solutions are predetermined.

    • Replies: @Kim
    Someone who writes as poorly as you - your comment is unreadable - should refain from giving advice on literacy isssues. (Or was your comment some kind of ironic joke?)
    , @22pp22
    Re Kim's comment.

    Your comment is sloppily written, but so are a lot of posts. Most of us at least pretend to lead busy lives and so make typing errors, which we do not bother to correct later. What you wrote made sense to me.

  22. Thank Todd for Florida.

    Shiite.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
    Looks like the Incels are having a Christmas to remember. And we thought they didn't have any Game!
    , @SFG
    Makes sense, actually. Not enough women to go around in nerd culture, so they share. And they can all play video games together.

    It's not something I'd tell my kid to aspire to, for sure, but if you're at the bottom of the curve it beats huffing paint or knocking over convenience stores and winding up in jail.

  23. @Kyle
    Homogenization of popular culture has allowed Mississippi to progress to the mean. I don’t know what it’s like being a kid in 2019, but I’m sure that most of them sit inside all day and flip through their smart phones. With the dominance of the internet as an information medium and a world of varied content opportunities at their finger tips, most of them are probably paying attention to pretty much the same thing. Or at least in aggregate kids in California, Texas, Michigan, and Mississippi are paying attention to the same things. America’s public school ciriculum has been mostly homogenized since the progressive era. There’s isn’t anything magic or tragic about the mud in the Mississippi delta. In the 21st century, why shouldn’t Mississippi test scores progress to the mean?

    There’s isn’t anything magic or tragic about the mud in the Mississippi delta. In the 21st century, why shouldn’t Mississippi test scores progress to the mean?

    Because Mississippi is 40% black.

    • Replies: @Jim bob Lassiter
    Occam's Razor explanation: They're cheating statewide in Mississippi just like all those black skoo administrators and teachers in metro Atlanta who got caught a few years ago.
  24. @Steve Sailer
    I dunno.

    “I dunno.”

    Did a teacher ever say “sound it out”?

  25. @Charon

    Remember the “Hooked On Phonics” program that some time ago was torpedoed by the education establishment
     
    Still better than "Hooked on Ebonics"

    Then, there’s the US Bureau of Labor Statistics – Hooked on Hedonics.

  26. See this is the problem with the Laboratory of the States: When some States have to sit there and be humiliated by other States, it can affect their self-esteem, resulting in even worse performance due to Stereotype Threat.

    • LOL: Twodees Partain
  27. @Whitney
    When I see test scores go up I always think deception and fraud. Am I a cynic or a realist?

    When I see test scores go up I always think deception and fraud. Am I a cynic or a realist?

    CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic’s eyes to improve his vision.

    Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

    • Replies: @Charon
    “The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.” --Shaw
  28. Anon[938] • Disclaimer says:

    I’m not sure it’s their test scores going up so much as the rest of the US is going down because of immigration. Mississippi hasn’t gotten a lot of immigrants–it’s not a place immigrants flock to for jobs–and this means nearly all their pupils have English as a first language. This is giving them an advantage in testing. If it weren’t for their black population, they’d be testing more like North Dakota.

  29. They introduced phonics to Clackmannanshire in Scotland and the results were spectacular. But the experiment was discontinued, and the schools returned to the failed old techniques. Educrats found clever reasons to explain away the results.

    https://www.theguardian.com/education/2010/jan/19/phonics-child-literacy

    I don’t think any deception was involved and, as far as I know, maths grades remained as bad as ever.

    • Replies: @Dan Hayes
    22pp22:

    Was he phonics experiment discontinued in Scotland as I didn't get that impression from the Guardain article? What about England?

    And thanks for providing the Guardian article, which I found surprisingly informative and balanced for England's premier leftist rag!
  30. @Alice
    the departure from phonics exists for many reasons, but one main one now is: "reading programs" without phonics have the entire market share of classrooms, and current teachers don't know any phonics to teach. Publishers made money convincing teachers and admins they don't need to teach phonics. phonics is boring, but more: phonics immediately differentiates the students into the capable and incapable. teach phonics to an iq 115 child and they need 3 repetitions to learn the pattern, but the 85 child needs 300.

    Because children learn to read by mapping sounds they already know to symbols on a page, already knowing 100,000 words vs 10,000 gives you too big an advantage to make the kinder or grade 1 classroom viable for a teacher. the 6 year cognitive/achievement spread is too big.

    much better instead to teach whole language, have kids guess based on pictures, and then the bright kids can't learn too much and the dumb ones leave your k-2 classroom before anyone labels them as Tier 2 or tier 3 or learning disabled.

    every curroxulum decision is driven by the goal of hiding the gap. every one.

    But laxk of phonics has a lot of negative effects. while high iq children may teach themselves to read without phonics it "explode the phonics code" themselves, average and even above average students can only succeed at whole language/word guessing by context until grade 4, after which lack of content knowledge sinks them. They cannot distinguish "notice" from "notarize" let alone "chemical" from "chemistry" . they do not figure it out by "feel" or "how it sounds" because their markov chain of possible grammatical constructions doesn't contain these kinds of sophisticated forms or sentences. so when you look at the longitudinal percentile curves for achievement in grades 2-12, basically reading scores flatten for the average in 4th and never rise again after 6th for anyone below the 95%ile, and even they level off. our smart kids can no longer read. it's a huge prohlem. math, by contrast has growth over all 12 years for the top kids.

    there's a lot that can be learned re why reading increases math scores, but short version is math problems are now heavily interpretive and reading based narrative story problems. the reason for this goes back to the feminization if education. there aren't any straight equations or computations on the NAEP.

    the reason you can't find nerds to tell you about data differences in education while you can in baseball is because states hide the darn data. just try to find school level data that shows individual scores per classroom, even oer school, and no just means. try to find the actual number of students reading proficient or partially proficient. try.

    ed schools don't have data and don't get data. there are lots of terribly interesting questions no one thinks to ask.

    but if you can get someone inside a school to show you the data with the names removed but allowing correlation scross classrooms, then you can what's really going on. my guess is texas is still teaching english to its mexican-american kids and CA isn't. but even finding the data on a basic question like "is it better to teach math in English to kids who speak spanish but not english at home", there's apparently zero research and no data. you'd think basic questions like efficacy would be looked at. nope. doesn't exist. no one had asked. no one is answering. it's all cultural Marxism all the time. the solutions are predetermined.

    Someone who writes as poorly as you – your comment is unreadable – should refain from giving advice on literacy isssues. (Or was your comment some kind of ironic joke?)

    • Replies: @ic1000
    > Someone who writes as poorly as you – your comment is unreadable...

    Alice's remarks have substance, she is conveying informed opinions about primary school curroxulum [sic]. She likely isn't a graduate of Cmabrigde Uinervtisy (see #11 supra), rather she typed or swiped the comment on a cell phone (dictating would have led to odd word choices, not typos). If the choice is between intelligent and polished, I'll take the former. Though I prefer both.
  31. @The Mad Italian
    How probable is it that being better readers also boosted the math scores? I can see it helping directly with word problems. Could it also bleed over to equations?

    It’s a interesting question. Maybe it’s cultural immersion of various math symbols into baseline activist society? (AKA outside of math class.)

    The “Woke” typically can’t do math (at least well) but the talk about “inequalities” and this pro-gay symbol might have an impact. Though the best means of testing math proficiency is to ask point blank to a kid (no advance notice) what’s a polynomial, a linear equation, and slope-intercept form? The question(s) cover more content than ability but it works. If the kid pisses his pants there’s trouble.

  32. @22pp22
    They introduced phonics to Clackmannanshire in Scotland and the results were spectacular. But the experiment was discontinued, and the schools returned to the failed old techniques. Educrats found clever reasons to explain away the results.

    https://www.theguardian.com/education/2010/jan/19/phonics-child-literacy

    I don't think any deception was involved and, as far as I know, maths grades remained as bad as ever.

    22pp22:

    Was he phonics experiment discontinued in Scotland as I didn’t get that impression from the Guardain article? What about England?

    And thanks for providing the Guardian article, which I found surprisingly informative and balanced for England’s premier leftist rag!

    • Replies: @22pp22
    I have not lived in Scotland for twenty years. I emigrated to New Zealand a long time ago and my information is out of date. I tried to check up, found the following website, saw the picture and gave up in despair.

    https://www.gtcs.org.uk/News/teaching-scotland/76-the-science-of-reading.aspx
    , @Reg Cæsar
    Gaelic spelling is supposed to be admirably consistent, like Spanish or German, but bizarrely complex nonetheless.

    Thai can make you cry, but Tibetan phonics will have you crawling and begging for look-say:


    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=btn0-Vce5ug


    Tibetan's last spelling reform came around the time Alcuin was advising Charlemagne and the Orthodox patriarchs were meeting for the last time (until recently) at the Second Council of Nicæa.

    The Orthodox finally held another council, on Crete, in 2016. So maybe we'll live to see another spelling reform in Tibet.
  33. iSteve commenter Col Reb Sez points out that Mississippi has installed a “gate” to keep low-scoring third graders from being promoted to fourth grade

    Don’t let kids pass — unless they can pass?
    WHAT IS THIS RACIST NONSENSE?! DON’T YOU WANT FEDERAL MONEY?!

  34. @Peterike
    For gods sake, English is a phonetic language. The ONLY sensible way to teach it is via phonics. Whole word is basically teaching English as if it were Chinese.

    The departure from phonics is all you need to know to understand that our education establishment needs to be burned to the ground and every “education” professor jailed for life and made to break rocks.

    It’s idiocy at a level that’s genuinely incomprehensible. Which is why I think it’s deliberate sabotage.

    English is a phonetic language.

    Are you trolling? English uses an alphabet but the writing system is not phonetic. Which is why I didn‘t write „thu raiting sistem iz nat fonetik.“

    English is written with archaic and borrowed spellings that make English in many ways closer to Chinese than to a language like German, which is still mostly phonetic.

    That is not a bad thing in a lot of ways. It has allowed the many dialects of English and American to use the same writing system and increased the influence of the Anglosphere. If American were written phonetically we would ride „chrainz“ and „chrucks“.

    • Agree: Herbert West, Thea
    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    English is written with archaic and borrowed spellings that make English in many ways closer to Chinese than to a language like German, which is still mostly phonetic.
     
    You take the pendulum too far in the other direction. English is still moderately phonetic. German itself has oddities, such as Sch-. Compare that to Russian Ш for the same phoneme. Хрущёв vs. Chruschtschow. And before T or P, that phoneme is spelt as S.

    For consistency, nothing can beat Finnish. Were ng a single character, that language would be perfectly phonetic.
    , @Anonymous
    Right. Cough, bough, rough, though and through are all pronounced differently. It's a huge problem for learners of English.
  35. @Dan Hayes
    22pp22:

    Was he phonics experiment discontinued in Scotland as I didn't get that impression from the Guardain article? What about England?

    And thanks for providing the Guardian article, which I found surprisingly informative and balanced for England's premier leftist rag!

    I have not lived in Scotland for twenty years. I emigrated to New Zealand a long time ago and my information is out of date. I tried to check up, found the following website, saw the picture and gave up in despair.

    https://www.gtcs.org.uk/News/teaching-scotland/76-the-science-of-reading.aspx

  36. @Alice
    the departure from phonics exists for many reasons, but one main one now is: "reading programs" without phonics have the entire market share of classrooms, and current teachers don't know any phonics to teach. Publishers made money convincing teachers and admins they don't need to teach phonics. phonics is boring, but more: phonics immediately differentiates the students into the capable and incapable. teach phonics to an iq 115 child and they need 3 repetitions to learn the pattern, but the 85 child needs 300.

    Because children learn to read by mapping sounds they already know to symbols on a page, already knowing 100,000 words vs 10,000 gives you too big an advantage to make the kinder or grade 1 classroom viable for a teacher. the 6 year cognitive/achievement spread is too big.

    much better instead to teach whole language, have kids guess based on pictures, and then the bright kids can't learn too much and the dumb ones leave your k-2 classroom before anyone labels them as Tier 2 or tier 3 or learning disabled.

    every curroxulum decision is driven by the goal of hiding the gap. every one.

    But laxk of phonics has a lot of negative effects. while high iq children may teach themselves to read without phonics it "explode the phonics code" themselves, average and even above average students can only succeed at whole language/word guessing by context until grade 4, after which lack of content knowledge sinks them. They cannot distinguish "notice" from "notarize" let alone "chemical" from "chemistry" . they do not figure it out by "feel" or "how it sounds" because their markov chain of possible grammatical constructions doesn't contain these kinds of sophisticated forms or sentences. so when you look at the longitudinal percentile curves for achievement in grades 2-12, basically reading scores flatten for the average in 4th and never rise again after 6th for anyone below the 95%ile, and even they level off. our smart kids can no longer read. it's a huge prohlem. math, by contrast has growth over all 12 years for the top kids.

    there's a lot that can be learned re why reading increases math scores, but short version is math problems are now heavily interpretive and reading based narrative story problems. the reason for this goes back to the feminization if education. there aren't any straight equations or computations on the NAEP.

    the reason you can't find nerds to tell you about data differences in education while you can in baseball is because states hide the darn data. just try to find school level data that shows individual scores per classroom, even oer school, and no just means. try to find the actual number of students reading proficient or partially proficient. try.

    ed schools don't have data and don't get data. there are lots of terribly interesting questions no one thinks to ask.

    but if you can get someone inside a school to show you the data with the names removed but allowing correlation scross classrooms, then you can what's really going on. my guess is texas is still teaching english to its mexican-american kids and CA isn't. but even finding the data on a basic question like "is it better to teach math in English to kids who speak spanish but not english at home", there's apparently zero research and no data. you'd think basic questions like efficacy would be looked at. nope. doesn't exist. no one had asked. no one is answering. it's all cultural Marxism all the time. the solutions are predetermined.

    Re Kim’s comment.

    Your comment is sloppily written, but so are a lot of posts. Most of us at least pretend to lead busy lives and so make typing errors, which we do not bother to correct later. What you wrote made sense to me.

    • Agree: Kratoklastes, bomag
  37. @Peterike
    For gods sake, English is a phonetic language. The ONLY sensible way to teach it is via phonics. Whole word is basically teaching English as if it were Chinese.

    The departure from phonics is all you need to know to understand that our education establishment needs to be burned to the ground and every “education” professor jailed for life and made to break rocks.

    It’s idiocy at a level that’s genuinely incomprehensible. Which is why I think it’s deliberate sabotage.

    You are dead wrong — English orthography is highly non-phonemic.

  38. @Dan Hayes
    22pp22:

    Was he phonics experiment discontinued in Scotland as I didn't get that impression from the Guardain article? What about England?

    And thanks for providing the Guardian article, which I found surprisingly informative and balanced for England's premier leftist rag!

    Gaelic spelling is supposed to be admirably consistent, like Spanish or German, but bizarrely complex nonetheless.

    Thai can make you cry, but Tibetan phonics will have you crawling and begging for look-say:

    Tibetan’s last spelling reform came around the time Alcuin was advising Charlemagne and the Orthodox patriarchs were meeting for the last time (until recently) at the Second Council of Nicæa.

    The Orthodox finally held another council, on Crete, in 2016. So maybe we’ll live to see another spelling reform in Tibet.

    • Replies: @Dacian Julien Soros
    Imagine the CIA stipendees, either on Agency for Global Media media, or on "independent" / "dissident" Democracy Now-style ops: "muh Tibetan spelling destroyed by evil Chinese Communists". You will get the feeling that Xi Jinping himself would have chosen which letters are cancelled, picking up mainly on characters that make up the name of His Holiness, The Dalai Lama.
  39. “Basically, teach kids phonics.”

    Nope, absolutely wrong. Teach kids POETRY.

    What on earth do you think poetry IS, anyway? Esp. among Indo-European civilizations? It’s not a hifalutin abstruse mystery science (although it unintentionally turned into that, thanks for nothing Messrs. Pound and Eliot), it is a quick and easy way to absorb and retain critical non-scientific knowledge and lore, and to become literate in the process.

    I was angry with my friend.
    I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
    I was angry with my foe.
    I told it not, my wrath did grow.

    Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
    Thou art more lovely, and more temperate.

    I got a
    Letter this morning, what do you
    Reckon it read?
    It said The gal you love is dead.

    Weave a circle round him thrice
    And close your eyes in holy dread,
    For he on honey-dew hath fed,
    And drunk the milk of Paradise.

    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

    I celebrate my self, and sing my self,
    And what I assume YOU shall assume.

    They said, You have a blue guitar,
    You do not play things as they are.
    The man replied, Things as they are,
    Are changed upon the blue guitar.

    There’s too much lime in the world,
    And not enough gin.

    When I threw three sevens in a row,
    I was scared to walk out with the dough.

    Not even one free beer.

    • Replies: @Thea
    Yes absolutely

    Dearest creature in creation,
    Study English pronunciation.
    I will teach you in my verse
    Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse. I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
    Make your head with heat grow dizzy. Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
    So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
    Just compare heart, beard, and heard, Dies and diet, lord and word,
    Sword and sward, retain and Britain. (Mind the latter, how it’s written.) Now I surely will not plague you With such words as plaque and ague. But be careful how you speak:
    Say break and steak, but bleak and streak; Cloven, oven, how and low,
    Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
    , @SFG
    Sure, the 'ABCDE...' thing is actually a song kids learn. (Sing it to yourself in your head...) These things are still around for hundreds of years because they work.

    If you want moral lessons 'If' (Rudyard Kipling) is pretty good.

    Just make sure you're doing real poetry that rhymes, and not this noveau free verse crap...

  40. @Peter Akuleyev
    English is a phonetic language.

    Are you trolling? English uses an alphabet but the writing system is not phonetic. Which is why I didn‘t write „thu raiting sistem iz nat fonetik.“

    English is written with archaic and borrowed spellings that make English in many ways closer to Chinese than to a language like German, which is still mostly phonetic.

    That is not a bad thing in a lot of ways. It has allowed the many dialects of English and American to use the same writing system and increased the influence of the Anglosphere. If American were written phonetically we would ride „chrainz“ and „chrucks“.

    English is written with archaic and borrowed spellings that make English in many ways closer to Chinese than to a language like German, which is still mostly phonetic.

    You take the pendulum too far in the other direction. English is still moderately phonetic. German itself has oddities, such as Sch-. Compare that to Russian Ш for the same phoneme. Хрущёв vs. Chruschtschow. And before T or P, that phoneme is spelt as S.

    For consistency, nothing can beat Finnish. Were ng a single character, that language would be perfectly phonetic.

    • Replies: @Peter Akuleyev
    German "Sch" is only an oddity if you look at it from the perspective of an English speaker. The combination "sch" always represents a voiceless alveolar fricative, just as "sh" usually does in English. It is an easy rule to learn as a child, unlike all the crazy "i before e except after c" style nonsense in English. There is a reason Spelling Bees are a strictly Anglo-sphere phenomenon, the same way Chinese have quizzes on character knowledge.

    But again, in many ways the irregularity of English and Chinese are actually strengths and create a unity across dialects that does not exist, for example, between Dutch and standard German or Polish and Czech.

    I have always thought that the ability of Swiss children speaking dialect to learn to read and write in standard German, which is almost the equivalent of English children learning to read and write only in Dutch, is incredibly impressive and deserves more attention.
  41. “Is it for real or is something going on involving the test?”

    Greg Cochran believes that Texas is doing something funny with regards to the tests. i’ve seen him post about it a couple times over the years. personally i have no idea, and haven’t thought about it.

    i’ve talked before about how my school district in Pennsylvania had deliberately set up a system to get more National Merit Scholars, by having a program for extra and advanced education for kids who could score at wechlser 140 or above when they were like 8 or 10, 12 at the latest for the late entry kids. entry was by invitation, and some kids declined, or dropped out after doing it for a few years, but they got 90% of the kids who could qualify, to go thru this stuff from 4th grade to 11th grade, when PSAT happened. my opinion is that it mostly worked – it increased the number of NMS by an extra couple per year. impressive considering that a few of the kids who could probably have been NMS deliberately dropped out of the education grind before PSAT time. maybe the school district knew from 30 or 40 years of this stuff that they could get their numbers up by getting the marginal kids involved early and not letting them drift into some kind of blue collar future by high school.

    why wechsler 140? because that’s about the performance level were NMS kids start showing up. so the school district was already scouting you by the time you were 8. no kidding, just in my class, 3 of the kids at that intelligence level practically dropped out of serious school efforts, forgoing the AP track classes to just cruise to easy Bs in normal classes so they could graduate and go do some hands on trade job or be police officers or fire fighters.

  42. @Reg Cæsar

    English is written with archaic and borrowed spellings that make English in many ways closer to Chinese than to a language like German, which is still mostly phonetic.
     
    You take the pendulum too far in the other direction. English is still moderately phonetic. German itself has oddities, such as Sch-. Compare that to Russian Ш for the same phoneme. Хрущёв vs. Chruschtschow. And before T or P, that phoneme is spelt as S.

    For consistency, nothing can beat Finnish. Were ng a single character, that language would be perfectly phonetic.

    German “Sch” is only an oddity if you look at it from the perspective of an English speaker. The combination “sch” always represents a voiceless alveolar fricative, just as “sh” usually does in English. It is an easy rule to learn as a child, unlike all the crazy “i before e except after c” style nonsense in English. There is a reason Spelling Bees are a strictly Anglo-sphere phenomenon, the same way Chinese have quizzes on character knowledge.

    But again, in many ways the irregularity of English and Chinese are actually strengths and create a unity across dialects that does not exist, for example, between Dutch and standard German or Polish and Czech.

    I have always thought that the ability of Swiss children speaking dialect to learn to read and write in standard German, which is almost the equivalent of English children learning to read and write only in Dutch, is incredibly impressive and deserves more attention.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    I have always thought that the ability of Swiss children speaking dialect to learn to read and write in standard German, which is almost the equivalent of English children learning to read and write only in Dutch, is incredibly impressive and deserves more attention.
     
    The technical term for this is diglossia, switching back-and-forth between class or dialect variants, or even separate languages, to fit the occasion. Scots do it, US blacks do it, Italians were famous for it, though it's breaking down on the boot.

    German “Sch” is only an oddity if you look at it from the perspective of an English speaker.
     
    Or a Korean or a Finn or a Ukrainian. Sch- is as unwieldy as the French -eau to represent a fourth vowel which isn't seen. S + C+ H ≠ ⟨ʃ⟩ in IPA. A SINGLE character in Cyrillic is a heptograph in German, schtsch.

    There is a reason Spelling Bees are a strictly Anglo-sphere phenomenon
     
    German is consistent in one direction. Homophones often have different spellings which distinguish them on the page.

    wider/wieder
    fällt/Feld
    Sie/sie/sie/sieh
    Stadt/statt
    das Rad/der Rat
    der Bund/bunt
    frisst/Frist
    bis/der Biss
    das/dass


    A limited spelling bee might not be a bad idea!
  43. maybe Mississippi just isn’t having the marginal kids take NAEP. could be what Texas is doing.

    on PISA, Germany had the most comprehensive participation. in characteristic German style. 99% participation was the claimed number, or basically, everybody. at least now they know what’s going on with their New Germans. they didn’t try to hide anybody at all, and got results on all their imports.

    but for German Germans, they actually did well. 102 to 103 range on reading, 103 to 104 range on math. so, similar to 15 year olds in Japan. i mean, that’s about as good as it gets, right? other than Germans don’t have many kids, so there will be less of them in the future, i don’t see how the observed numbers could have been any better. the numbers for other northwest european 15 year olds were similar. all above wechsler 100 now using rough conversion. with the Irish approaching 100 now too.

    this must mean that the effects of communism and the detrimental environment in former East Germany are abating. we knew for sure that the people in East Germany were less smart, after 40 years of communist control. but now, 30 years after unification, those effects are starting to go away.

    that graph of time spent versus score on the test was very revealing – the Germans spent the least amount of time prepping for PISA, the Chinese the most.

  44. @Peter Akuleyev
    English is a phonetic language.

    Are you trolling? English uses an alphabet but the writing system is not phonetic. Which is why I didn‘t write „thu raiting sistem iz nat fonetik.“

    English is written with archaic and borrowed spellings that make English in many ways closer to Chinese than to a language like German, which is still mostly phonetic.

    That is not a bad thing in a lot of ways. It has allowed the many dialects of English and American to use the same writing system and increased the influence of the Anglosphere. If American were written phonetically we would ride „chrainz“ and „chrucks“.

    Right. Cough, bough, rough, though and through are all pronounced differently. It’s a huge problem for learners of English.

  45. Basically, the Greeks got education figured out 2,500 years ago. “Some of their methods, though, are embarrassing (chanting) to people receiving education doctorates, so we turn away from them, much to our detriment”.

  46. @syonredux

    When I see test scores go up I always think deception and fraud. Am I a cynic or a realist?
     
    CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision.

    Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

    “The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.” —Shaw

  47. @Whitney
    When I see test scores go up I always think deception and fraud. Am I a cynic or a realist?

    “The most erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.”

    ~ H.L. Mencken

  48. As a lifelong denizen of the mid south I agree….mississippi(my former stste) has some of the most grotesque facts….near 1st on the bad things…amd last on the good things…..

  49. @ColRebSez
    This article does not mention that Mississippi recently adopted a third-grade test "gate" so that students who could not read could not advance to fourth grade. So of course reading scores will be higher, since children who cannot read are not in fourth grade to take the test!

    This is not to say I don't approve of the policy. I support the use of phonics. But no magic wand has been created.

    Mississippi recently adopted a third-grade test “gate”

    In 2015, per Steve’s linked article.

    Which doesn’t correspond well with the score rise, but maybe they were doing other such things.

  50. We could say California is 49th in Education…or we could say

    Thank God For Mississippi!

  51. Mississippi is one of 16 states nationwide that demand third graders pass or flunk.

    DING! We have a winner!

    In olden times when I was in grade school if you didn’t get passing grades you were “held back”. No kid wanted that. No parent wanted that.

    When I was in the Army time spent in the stockade did not count against your term of enlistment. That’s why we called it bad time. Same principle.

    • Agree: Cortes
    • Replies: @Cortes
    A couple of months ago I met an unfortunate guy who had been “kept back” in primary school (usually finished at 11) until one term shy of his 16th birthday when he was moved to the “Remedial” Section of his local high school so that the staff could help him to look for suitable employment possibilities.

    Within two years he was in the control of “traveller” gangs who enslaved him for years. On reaching 18 he dropped below the radar of the agencies which had monitored him.
  52. Early in the “Whole Word” era I heard this anecdote.

    New reader: “Mom, why do we have Tobacco sauce on the table?” (Tabasco)

    As to the math scores. You need good reading skills to understand the problems.

    A question on a Statistics final I took went something like this:

    “There are four persons in a household who wash the dinner dishes. “A” washes the dishes one third of the time and breaks a dish every tenth time they wash. “B” washes the dishes one third of the time and breaks a dish every 23rd time. “C” washes the dishes one fourth of the time and breads a dish every 20th time. “D” washes the dishes one twelfth of the time and breaks a dish every 18th time.

    The four persons are in the kitchen. You are alone in the next room and hear a dish break. What is the probability that “A” is washing dishes? “B” washing dishes? “C” washing dishes? “D” washing dishes?”

    Try understanding solving that problem without being able to read.

    I believe this is solved using Chebyshev’s Theorem. At least that is what I remember, it’s been a long time.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Chebyshev's Theorem deals with probability distributions, I think you meant Bayes' Theorem.
    I would solve the problem the following way (with Bayes)
    You first define:
    A*=probability that A washes AND breaks a plate = 1/3*1/10,
    B*, C*, D* are computed like A*.
    Then you say G=A*+B*+C*+D* (G is the probability that a plate breaks, when it is washed)

    The probabilities are now A*/G, B*/G, C*/G, D*/G
  53. The reason why the study of baseball statistics is so popular is that no one feels bad or offended when you say someone has poor baseball statistics.

    • Replies: @Anon
    Good point. And because different states have different demographics in the public schools it is difficult to compare states without breaking down the racial and ethnic components of each states students

    Do they break-down baseball statistics by race ? Or ethnicity ? Are Dominicans and Mexicans both in the same ethnic category ? Alex Rodriguez is a white Dominican player , yet Derek Jeter a Black player.

    Also consider the Blacks in New York are on average 26% white , while the Blacks in Philadelphia are on average just 12% White. Is is fair to compare the Black students in NYC against the blacks in Philadelphia ?

  54. @AnotherDad

    There’s isn’t anything magic or tragic about the mud in the Mississippi delta. In the 21st century, why shouldn’t Mississippi test scores progress to the mean?
     
    Because Mississippi is 40% black.

    Occam’s Razor explanation: They’re cheating statewide in Mississippi just like all those black skoo administrators and teachers in metro Atlanta who got caught a few years ago.

  55. @MBlanc46
    It’s a good thing that Mme B’s uncle, who lived in Bella Vista, Arkansas, has gone to his reward. “Thank God for Mississippi” was his standard reply to Arkansas’ place in national rankings of just about any quantity.

    I grew up in nearby Fayetteville. And yes, we used “Thank God for Mississippi “ there. In the old days, Arkansas was ranked 49 in just about everything.

    The educational reforms during Clinton’s time as governor raised Arkansas all the way to around 45 or 46 Some is that was a real improvement in the state’s schools. Some of that was more families from states closer to Canada moving to Arkansas.

  56. Blame William the Conqueror!

    Before that bastard, English was as phonetic as most other languages. He cost us the very useful thorn character amongst other misdeeds.

    It takes students in English speaking countries an average of two years longer to become literate than children learning other languages.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    That was the problem that the Deseret and Shavian alphabets were to solve.

    But only in a dictatorship do you do stuff like changing alphabets or adopting the metric system or getting women to do man stuff. Consequently dictatorships are unpalatable in normal times but have evolutionary advantages when things break bad: conversely when you want to bring in a dictatorship you create a fake or real crisis.

    Another observation: Russian is easier to teach to adult Westerners (NASA does it all the time) than Polish, precisely because it has a new alphabet which matches the sounds in the language. Polish uses the Latin alphabet but not the way you and I (assuming you are not a Pole) think of it.
  57. @The Germ Theory of Disease
    "Basically, teach kids phonics."

    Nope, absolutely wrong. Teach kids POETRY.

    What on earth do you think poetry IS, anyway? Esp. among Indo-European civilizations? It's not a hifalutin abstruse mystery science (although it unintentionally turned into that, thanks for nothing Messrs. Pound and Eliot), it is a quick and easy way to absorb and retain critical non-scientific knowledge and lore, and to become literate in the process.

    I was angry with my friend.
    I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
    I was angry with my foe.
    I told it not, my wrath did grow.

    Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
    Thou art more lovely, and more temperate.

    I got a
    Letter this morning, what do you
    Reckon it read?
    It said The gal you love is dead.

    Weave a circle round him thrice
    And close your eyes in holy dread,
    For he on honey-dew hath fed,
    And drunk the milk of Paradise.

    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

    I celebrate my self, and sing my self,
    And what I assume YOU shall assume.

    They said, You have a blue guitar,
    You do not play things as they are.
    The man replied, Things as they are,
    Are changed upon the blue guitar.

    There's too much lime in the world,
    And not enough gin.

    When I threw three sevens in a row,
    I was scared to walk out with the dough.

    Not even one free beer.

    Yes absolutely

    Dearest creature in creation,
    Study English pronunciation.
    I will teach you in my verse
    Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse. I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
    Make your head with heat grow dizzy. Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
    So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
    Just compare heart, beard, and heard, Dies and diet, lord and word,
    Sword and sward, retain and Britain. (Mind the latter, how it’s written.) Now I surely will not plague you With such words as plaque and ague. But be careful how you speak:
    Say break and steak, but bleak and streak; Cloven, oven, how and low,
    Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

  58. @Kim
    Someone who writes as poorly as you - your comment is unreadable - should refain from giving advice on literacy isssues. (Or was your comment some kind of ironic joke?)

    > Someone who writes as poorly as you – your comment is unreadable…

    Alice’s remarks have substance, she is conveying informed opinions about primary school curroxulum [sic]. She likely isn’t a graduate of Cmabrigde Uinervtisy (see #11 supra), rather she typed or swiped the comment on a cell phone (dictating would have led to odd word choices, not typos). If the choice is between intelligent and polished, I’ll take the former. Though I prefer both.

  59. “This helps explain why analyzing baseball statistics is so much more popular than analyzing education statistics.”

    Actually, analyzing education statistics is much more popular, as evident by the think tanks, national and state policy boards, and media reports of studies conducted by educational policy wonks on both the right and the left.

    Another Sarah Jeong on your part, Mr. Sailer. Gotta raise that dough!

    • LOL: ic1000
  60. @Anonymous
    Thank Todd for Florida.

    Shiite.

    https://twitter.com/Goodtweet_man/status/1202960057786343424

    Looks like the Incels are having a Christmas to remember. And we thought they didn’t have any Game!

  61. @The Germ Theory of Disease
    "Basically, teach kids phonics."

    Nope, absolutely wrong. Teach kids POETRY.

    What on earth do you think poetry IS, anyway? Esp. among Indo-European civilizations? It's not a hifalutin abstruse mystery science (although it unintentionally turned into that, thanks for nothing Messrs. Pound and Eliot), it is a quick and easy way to absorb and retain critical non-scientific knowledge and lore, and to become literate in the process.

    I was angry with my friend.
    I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
    I was angry with my foe.
    I told it not, my wrath did grow.

    Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
    Thou art more lovely, and more temperate.

    I got a
    Letter this morning, what do you
    Reckon it read?
    It said The gal you love is dead.

    Weave a circle round him thrice
    And close your eyes in holy dread,
    For he on honey-dew hath fed,
    And drunk the milk of Paradise.

    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

    I celebrate my self, and sing my self,
    And what I assume YOU shall assume.

    They said, You have a blue guitar,
    You do not play things as they are.
    The man replied, Things as they are,
    Are changed upon the blue guitar.

    There's too much lime in the world,
    And not enough gin.

    When I threw three sevens in a row,
    I was scared to walk out with the dough.

    Not even one free beer.

    Sure, the ‘ABCDE…’ thing is actually a song kids learn. (Sing it to yourself in your head…) These things are still around for hundreds of years because they work.

    If you want moral lessons ‘If’ (Rudyard Kipling) is pretty good.

    Just make sure you’re doing real poetry that rhymes, and not this noveau free verse crap…

    • Replies: @The Germ Theory of Disease
    Ripped from today's headlines, but written four hundred years ago...

    ...Who is so gross
    That cannot see this palpable device?
    Yet who so bold, but says he sees it not?
    Bad is the world, and all will come to naught,
    When such ill-dealing can be seen in thought.

    "When I want to know the news, I read Byron." -- Frank O'Hara

    One might. One might. But Time will not relent.
    -- Stevens
  62. @Anonymous
    Thank Todd for Florida.

    Shiite.

    https://twitter.com/Goodtweet_man/status/1202960057786343424

    Makes sense, actually. Not enough women to go around in nerd culture, so they share. And they can all play video games together.

    It’s not something I’d tell my kid to aspire to, for sure, but if you’re at the bottom of the curve it beats huffing paint or knocking over convenience stores and winding up in jail.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
    There are cultures where being studious, intelligent, and introverted is considered the epitome of true masculinity, and of husband potential...

    But unfortunately, we've defined "nerd" over the last decade as being obsessed with video games, comics, and anime as opposed to having serious intellectual interests and living your life in a logical, rational fashion. Nothing wrong with the former in and of itself I guess, but it attracts people who have nothing but that, along with a personality that is anything but logical. Such people used to be called losers, not nerds. I suppose it's symptomatic of overall intellectual decline in our culture even as we are more credentialed than ever.

    10 year old me would be appalled to be lumped into the same category.
  63. @ColRebSez
    This article does not mention that Mississippi recently adopted a third-grade test "gate" so that students who could not read could not advance to fourth grade. So of course reading scores will be higher, since children who cannot read are not in fourth grade to take the test!

    This is not to say I don't approve of the policy. I support the use of phonics. But no magic wand has been created.

    Of course.

    The new, improved test results are merely the “selection effect” in action.

    I’ll bet the method of reading instruction made no significant difference (even though I myself agree with teaching Phonics) relative to the importance of the cognitive ability of the test takers.

    Give me smarter test takers, and I’ll give you better scores!

  64. Anon[312] • Disclaimer says:
    @ScarletNumber
    The reason why the study of baseball statistics is so popular is that no one feels bad or offended when you say someone has poor baseball statistics.

    Good point. And because different states have different demographics in the public schools it is difficult to compare states without breaking down the racial and ethnic components of each states students

    Do they break-down baseball statistics by race ? Or ethnicity ? Are Dominicans and Mexicans both in the same ethnic category ? Alex Rodriguez is a white Dominican player , yet Derek Jeter a Black player.

    Also consider the Blacks in New York are on average 26% white , while the Blacks in Philadelphia are on average just 12% White. Is is fair to compare the Black students in NYC against the blacks in Philadelphia ?

    • Replies: @JMcG
    Where are your numbers on percentage white from?
  65. @SFG
    Makes sense, actually. Not enough women to go around in nerd culture, so they share. And they can all play video games together.

    It's not something I'd tell my kid to aspire to, for sure, but if you're at the bottom of the curve it beats huffing paint or knocking over convenience stores and winding up in jail.

    There are cultures where being studious, intelligent, and introverted is considered the epitome of true masculinity, and of husband potential…

    But unfortunately, we’ve defined “nerd” over the last decade as being obsessed with video games, comics, and anime as opposed to having serious intellectual interests and living your life in a logical, rational fashion. Nothing wrong with the former in and of itself I guess, but it attracts people who have nothing but that, along with a personality that is anything but logical. Such people used to be called losers, not nerds. I suppose it’s symptomatic of overall intellectual decline in our culture even as we are more credentialed than ever.

    10 year old me would be appalled to be lumped into the same category.

    • Replies: @SFG
    Chinese and Jewish? Yeah.

    I think the thing is a few science-y types (who have always existed, look at Newton or Trithemius) got rich in the tech boom, and the things they always liked like sci-fi and comic books then became trendier. So more people admitted to liking them--kind of a cargo cult situation. "Hey, I may not be able to found Microsoft, but I can watch sci-fi like Paul Allen!"

    You've got your alpha geeks who invent algorithms and unwind with D&D, your beta geeks who code the actual software and do the important jokes and play D&D on their off-hours, and your omega geeks who smoke weed in their garage and play D&D.

  66. @SFG
    Sure, the 'ABCDE...' thing is actually a song kids learn. (Sing it to yourself in your head...) These things are still around for hundreds of years because they work.

    If you want moral lessons 'If' (Rudyard Kipling) is pretty good.

    Just make sure you're doing real poetry that rhymes, and not this noveau free verse crap...

    Ripped from today’s headlines, but written four hundred years ago…

    …Who is so gross
    That cannot see this palpable device?
    Yet who so bold, but says he sees it not?
    Bad is the world, and all will come to naught,
    When such ill-dealing can be seen in thought.

    “When I want to know the news, I read Byron.” — Frank O’Hara

    One might. One might. But Time will not relent.
    — Stevens

  67. @Reg Cæsar
    Gaelic spelling is supposed to be admirably consistent, like Spanish or German, but bizarrely complex nonetheless.

    Thai can make you cry, but Tibetan phonics will have you crawling and begging for look-say:


    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=btn0-Vce5ug


    Tibetan's last spelling reform came around the time Alcuin was advising Charlemagne and the Orthodox patriarchs were meeting for the last time (until recently) at the Second Council of Nicæa.

    The Orthodox finally held another council, on Crete, in 2016. So maybe we'll live to see another spelling reform in Tibet.

    Imagine the CIA stipendees, either on Agency for Global Media media, or on “independent” / “dissident” Democracy Now-style ops: “muh Tibetan spelling destroyed by evil Chinese Communists”. You will get the feeling that Xi Jinping himself would have chosen which letters are cancelled, picking up mainly on characters that make up the name of His Holiness, The Dalai Lama.

  68. I barely read the last half of words. For example, experienced readers don’t really need to read the entire word “Mississippi” to recognize it.

    Tehse wrods may look lkie nosnesne, but yuo can raed tehm, cna’t yuo?

    Yuo cna porbalby raed tihs esaliy desptie teh msispeillgns.

    It deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

    A vheclie epxledod at a plocie cehckipont near the UN haduqertares in Bagahdd on Mnoday kilinlg the bmober and an Irqai polcie offceir.

    Big ccunoil tax ineesacrs tihs yaer hvae seezueqd the inmcoes of mnay pneosenirs.

    A dootcr has aimttded the magltheuansr of a tageene ceacnr pintaet who deid aetfr a hatospil durg blendur

    Cheers.

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
    The problem with this is that it is only palatable in small doses as a party trick. Your eyes and head would start to hurt quickly if you kept it up.

    Big ccunoil tax ineesacrs tihs yaer hvae seezueqd the inmcoes of mnay pneosenirs.

    A dootcr has aimttded the magltheuansr of a tageene ceacnr pintaet who deid aetfr a hatospil durg blendur
     
    The problem with both of these sentences is that they are sourced from British English. Therefore they are tougher to read.
  69. @nebulafox
    There are cultures where being studious, intelligent, and introverted is considered the epitome of true masculinity, and of husband potential...

    But unfortunately, we've defined "nerd" over the last decade as being obsessed with video games, comics, and anime as opposed to having serious intellectual interests and living your life in a logical, rational fashion. Nothing wrong with the former in and of itself I guess, but it attracts people who have nothing but that, along with a personality that is anything but logical. Such people used to be called losers, not nerds. I suppose it's symptomatic of overall intellectual decline in our culture even as we are more credentialed than ever.

    10 year old me would be appalled to be lumped into the same category.

    Chinese and Jewish? Yeah.

    I think the thing is a few science-y types (who have always existed, look at Newton or Trithemius) got rich in the tech boom, and the things they always liked like sci-fi and comic books then became trendier. So more people admitted to liking them–kind of a cargo cult situation. “Hey, I may not be able to found Microsoft, but I can watch sci-fi like Paul Allen!”

    You’ve got your alpha geeks who invent algorithms and unwind with D&D, your beta geeks who code the actual software and do the important jokes and play D&D on their off-hours, and your omega geeks who smoke weed in their garage and play D&D.

  70. BobX [AKA "Anon"] says:

    Hi Steve,

    I am sure you remember Jerry’s wisdom on this. The stories of his own mom with her 2 year teacher education, and how no student capable of learning ever left her classroom not knowing how to read, and his pride in Roberta’s Phonics program.

    “men seldom need educating but they very often need reminding”

    Thanks
    Bob

    https://www.jerrypournelle.com/OldReading.html

    https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&as_q=&as_epq=&as_oq=phonics+mom+mother+Roberta%27s&as_eq=&as_nlo=&as_nhi=&lr=&cr=&as_qdr=all&as_sitesearch=jerrypournelle.com&as_occt=any&safe=images&as_filetype=&as_rights=

  71. @Whitney
    When I see test scores go up I always think deception and fraud. Am I a cynic or a realist?

    Like me, you’re both.

    Like when Epstein was suicided I immediately as Sean Connery would say “smelled a rat….”

  72. @Kyle
    Homogenization of popular culture has allowed Mississippi to progress to the mean. I don’t know what it’s like being a kid in 2019, but I’m sure that most of them sit inside all day and flip through their smart phones. With the dominance of the internet as an information medium and a world of varied content opportunities at their finger tips, most of them are probably paying attention to pretty much the same thing. Or at least in aggregate kids in California, Texas, Michigan, and Mississippi are paying attention to the same things. America’s public school ciriculum has been mostly homogenized since the progressive era. There’s isn’t anything magic or tragic about the mud in the Mississippi delta. In the 21st century, why shouldn’t Mississippi test scores progress to the mean?

    I have an Asian American acquaintance who is from Greenville. Her family owns or owned a restaurant near there.

    After college she bolted for Texas. The few who do have brains in the Delta don’t hang around after college.

  73. She responded to you on Twitter.

  74. @Whitney
    When I see test scores go up I always think deception and fraud. Am I a cynic or a realist?

    I think “what are the demographic shifts in those time spans?” as well.

  75. This may be of interest to students of teaching reading skills.

    I am approaching my 78th birthday within a month. Neither of my parents (both of German/Austrian linage but born in America) went to college and neither read for pleasure. My mother read repeatedly for me a handful of books when I was a toddler such as The Little Red Hen, a Day in the Jungle, Little Black Sambo, and a few others. She never tried to teach me to read but when I was still three I somehow learned to read. Having a close knit family with grandparents, uncles, aunts, even great uncles & aunts there were plenty of opportunities where I was, at an early age, given props, usually sections from a newspaper, to demonstrate my ability to read at a whim, as if a performer, by a family member at say a Sunday Dinner or an evening Pinochle get together with family & friends. The adults were always surprised by my extemporaneous performances. How I did it escapes me but somehow it just happened that I learned to read without any instruction but I had been read to daily from quite an early age. No effort was made to instruct me and no exposure to phonics was given to me. BTW, I am a fast reader and always have been. I did quite well all through my years of education on reading comprehension.

    Was there a downside? Yes, spelling has been a terrible chore for me through out my life. Also, I had no success in learning Latin or German. I failed learning to play the piano (no sense of timing according to three teachers) yet both parents played the piano in our home and so did my younger sister who was a prodigy of sorts on the piano through high school and she was always an outstanding, serious student and she eventually became a professor of internal medicine. I meandered through my educational career without a semblance of a plan but STEM subjects came easy as did English, History, and luckily I did well on the SATs & GREs to stumble through to two post docs.

    Looking backward, learning to read has been the most important accomplishment I can claim to have done as it opened the door for me to any success I may have had in life. Reading for pleasure has been my life long advocation and it continues to bring me a universe of wonder.

    Dan Kurt

  76. @Adam Smith

    I barely read the last half of words. For example, experienced readers don’t really need to read the entire word “Mississippi” to recognize it.
     
    Tehse wrods may look lkie nosnesne, but yuo can raed tehm, cna't yuo?

    Yuo cna porbalby raed tihs esaliy desptie teh msispeillgns.

    It deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

    A vheclie epxledod at a plocie cehckipont near the UN haduqertares in Bagahdd on Mnoday kilinlg the bmober and an Irqai polcie offceir.

    Big ccunoil tax ineesacrs tihs yaer hvae seezueqd the inmcoes of mnay pneosenirs.

    A dootcr has aimttded the magltheuansr of a tageene ceacnr pintaet who deid aetfr a hatospil durg blendur

    Cheers.

    The problem with this is that it is only palatable in small doses as a party trick. Your eyes and head would start to hurt quickly if you kept it up.

    Big ccunoil tax ineesacrs tihs yaer hvae seezueqd the inmcoes of mnay pneosenirs.

    A dootcr has aimttded the magltheuansr of a tageene ceacnr pintaet who deid aetfr a hatospil durg blendur

    The problem with both of these sentences is that they are sourced from British English. Therefore they are tougher to read.

    • Replies: @Adam Smith
    The last two are indeed a little trickier.
  77. @WorkingClass
    Mississippi is one of 16 states nationwide that demand third graders pass or flunk.

    DING! We have a winner!

    In olden times when I was in grade school if you didn't get passing grades you were "held back". No kid wanted that. No parent wanted that.

    When I was in the Army time spent in the stockade did not count against your term of enlistment. That's why we called it bad time. Same principle.

    A couple of months ago I met an unfortunate guy who had been “kept back” in primary school (usually finished at 11) until one term shy of his 16th birthday when he was moved to the “Remedial” Section of his local high school so that the staff could help him to look for suitable employment possibilities.

    Within two years he was in the control of “traveller” gangs who enslaved him for years. On reaching 18 he dropped below the radar of the agencies which had monitored him.

  78. @Peter Akuleyev
    German "Sch" is only an oddity if you look at it from the perspective of an English speaker. The combination "sch" always represents a voiceless alveolar fricative, just as "sh" usually does in English. It is an easy rule to learn as a child, unlike all the crazy "i before e except after c" style nonsense in English. There is a reason Spelling Bees are a strictly Anglo-sphere phenomenon, the same way Chinese have quizzes on character knowledge.

    But again, in many ways the irregularity of English and Chinese are actually strengths and create a unity across dialects that does not exist, for example, between Dutch and standard German or Polish and Czech.

    I have always thought that the ability of Swiss children speaking dialect to learn to read and write in standard German, which is almost the equivalent of English children learning to read and write only in Dutch, is incredibly impressive and deserves more attention.

    I have always thought that the ability of Swiss children speaking dialect to learn to read and write in standard German, which is almost the equivalent of English children learning to read and write only in Dutch, is incredibly impressive and deserves more attention.

    The technical term for this is diglossia, switching back-and-forth between class or dialect variants, or even separate languages, to fit the occasion. Scots do it, US blacks do it, Italians were famous for it, though it’s breaking down on the boot.

    German “Sch” is only an oddity if you look at it from the perspective of an English speaker.

    Or a Korean or a Finn or a Ukrainian. Sch– is as unwieldy as the French -eau to represent a fourth vowel which isn’t seen. S + C+ H ≠ ⟨ʃ⟩ in IPA. A SINGLE character in Cyrillic is a heptograph in German, schtsch.

    There is a reason Spelling Bees are a strictly Anglo-sphere phenomenon

    German is consistent in one direction. Homophones often have different spellings which distinguish them on the page.

    wider/wieder
    fällt/Feld
    Sie/sie/sie/sieh
    Stadt/statt
    das Rad/der Rat
    der Bund/bunt
    frisst/Frist
    bis/der Biss
    das/dass

    A limited spelling bee might not be a bad idea!

  79. Anonymous[163] • Disclaimer says:
    @John Henry
    Early in the "Whole Word" era I heard this anecdote.

    New reader: "Mom, why do we have Tobacco sauce on the table?" (Tabasco)

    As to the math scores. You need good reading skills to understand the problems.

    A question on a Statistics final I took went something like this:

    "There are four persons in a household who wash the dinner dishes. "A" washes the dishes one third of the time and breaks a dish every tenth time they wash. "B" washes the dishes one third of the time and breaks a dish every 23rd time. "C" washes the dishes one fourth of the time and breads a dish every 20th time. "D" washes the dishes one twelfth of the time and breaks a dish every 18th time.

    The four persons are in the kitchen. You are alone in the next room and hear a dish break. What is the probability that "A" is washing dishes? "B" washing dishes? "C" washing dishes? "D" washing dishes?"

    Try understanding solving that problem without being able to read.

    I believe this is solved using Chebyshev's Theorem. At least that is what I remember, it's been a long time.

    Chebyshev’s Theorem deals with probability distributions, I think you meant Bayes’ Theorem.
    I would solve the problem the following way (with Bayes)
    You first define:
    A*=probability that A washes AND breaks a plate = 1/3*1/10,
    B*, C*, D* are computed like A*.
    Then you say G=A*+B*+C*+D* (G is the probability that a plate breaks, when it is washed)

    The probabilities are now A*/G, B*/G, C*/G, D*/G

    • Replies: @kleint
    I like to draw a picture for these problems. I can never remember Bayes' rule. Looks like your solution is correct though.
    , @John Henry
    You are probably correct. This was from a test I took in 1967. For whatever reason, I always associated it with Chebyshev. Mostly because I could never pronunsck it properly...
    I memorized the formula and at the start of the exam wrote it into the back of my blue book. The professor walked by and noticed. He hadn't seen me write it in, so asked I get a new blue book and start over. My being able to repeat the feat helped avoid any problems. :)
  80. @ScarletNumber
    The problem with this is that it is only palatable in small doses as a party trick. Your eyes and head would start to hurt quickly if you kept it up.

    Big ccunoil tax ineesacrs tihs yaer hvae seezueqd the inmcoes of mnay pneosenirs.

    A dootcr has aimttded the magltheuansr of a tageene ceacnr pintaet who deid aetfr a hatospil durg blendur
     
    The problem with both of these sentences is that they are sourced from British English. Therefore they are tougher to read.

    The last two are indeed a little trickier.

  81. Anonymous[405] • Disclaimer says:
    @Thea
    Blame William the Conqueror!

    Before that bastard, English was as phonetic as most other languages. He cost us the very useful thorn character amongst other misdeeds.

    It takes students in English speaking countries an average of two years longer to become literate than children learning other languages.

    That was the problem that the Deseret and Shavian alphabets were to solve.

    But only in a dictatorship do you do stuff like changing alphabets or adopting the metric system or getting women to do man stuff. Consequently dictatorships are unpalatable in normal times but have evolutionary advantages when things break bad: conversely when you want to bring in a dictatorship you create a fake or real crisis.

    Another observation: Russian is easier to teach to adult Westerners (NASA does it all the time) than Polish, precisely because it has a new alphabet which matches the sounds in the language. Polish uses the Latin alphabet but not the way you and I (assuming you are not a Pole) think of it.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    As others have already said, the problem with standardising English spellings are the widely variant pronunciations across the English-speaking world. Whose pronunciation should be reflected in the spelling?

    National rivalries would quickly come into play. The Scots for example have their own version of English which is written much as it's spoken in Scotland.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots_language

    If we're going to go all phonetic, why shouldn't they just revert to that?
  82. @Anonymous
    Chebyshev's Theorem deals with probability distributions, I think you meant Bayes' Theorem.
    I would solve the problem the following way (with Bayes)
    You first define:
    A*=probability that A washes AND breaks a plate = 1/3*1/10,
    B*, C*, D* are computed like A*.
    Then you say G=A*+B*+C*+D* (G is the probability that a plate breaks, when it is washed)

    The probabilities are now A*/G, B*/G, C*/G, D*/G

    I like to draw a picture for these problems. I can never remember Bayes’ rule. Looks like your solution is correct though.

  83. @njguy73
    I have been known to go on long rants about how the "look-say" or "whole word" method has been a crime against literacy, a crime against intelligence, and a crime against humanity.

    A possible benefit of the internet is there may be fewer cycles in the future, or they may be smaller. Circa 15 years ago I was involved in the reading community, and pretty much everyone agreed phonics was a necessary ingredient for success for many learners. The debate was around what percentage of the instruction needed to be phonics. At some point this info will be more mainstream, and it will be harder to convince parents and the next generation of teacher trainees that kids learn just by looking at the word (“Hey, I just googled and the director of reading of Major University says it’s nonsense that…”).

    Maybe I’m an optimistic.

  84. Anonymous[327] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous
    That was the problem that the Deseret and Shavian alphabets were to solve.

    But only in a dictatorship do you do stuff like changing alphabets or adopting the metric system or getting women to do man stuff. Consequently dictatorships are unpalatable in normal times but have evolutionary advantages when things break bad: conversely when you want to bring in a dictatorship you create a fake or real crisis.

    Another observation: Russian is easier to teach to adult Westerners (NASA does it all the time) than Polish, precisely because it has a new alphabet which matches the sounds in the language. Polish uses the Latin alphabet but not the way you and I (assuming you are not a Pole) think of it.

    As others have already said, the problem with standardising English spellings are the widely variant pronunciations across the English-speaking world. Whose pronunciation should be reflected in the spelling?

    National rivalries would quickly come into play. The Scots for example have their own version of English which is written much as it’s spoken in Scotland.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots_language

    If we’re going to go all phonetic, why shouldn’t they just revert to that?

  85. @Anonymous
    Chebyshev's Theorem deals with probability distributions, I think you meant Bayes' Theorem.
    I would solve the problem the following way (with Bayes)
    You first define:
    A*=probability that A washes AND breaks a plate = 1/3*1/10,
    B*, C*, D* are computed like A*.
    Then you say G=A*+B*+C*+D* (G is the probability that a plate breaks, when it is washed)

    The probabilities are now A*/G, B*/G, C*/G, D*/G

    You are probably correct. This was from a test I took in 1967. For whatever reason, I always associated it with Chebyshev. Mostly because I could never pronunsck it properly…
    I memorized the formula and at the start of the exam wrote it into the back of my blue book. The professor walked by and noticed. He hadn’t seen me write it in, so asked I get a new blue book and start over. My being able to repeat the feat helped avoid any problems. 🙂

  86. @Anon
    Good point. And because different states have different demographics in the public schools it is difficult to compare states without breaking down the racial and ethnic components of each states students

    Do they break-down baseball statistics by race ? Or ethnicity ? Are Dominicans and Mexicans both in the same ethnic category ? Alex Rodriguez is a white Dominican player , yet Derek Jeter a Black player.

    Also consider the Blacks in New York are on average 26% white , while the Blacks in Philadelphia are on average just 12% White. Is is fair to compare the Black students in NYC against the blacks in Philadelphia ?

    Where are your numbers on percentage white from?

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