Research: Past & Present
all students achieve higher standards
Quiet, Well-Lighted Place with Books:
Communications with Parents About
the New Reading Standards Affects Student Achievement
by Lara Goldstone
Does communicating with parents about the English
Language Arts independent reading standards,
and about how they can support their children's
reading, affect student achievement? How
can schools help to build social capital
I taught reading to sixth graders in Manhattan's Chinatown. In all, 99% of
my students spoke English as a second language. They entered my classes reading
about two years below grade level on average. The New Standards for middle
school require students to read 25 challenging books or texts in a variety
of genres each year and to demonstrate that they have understood, analyzed,
compared and contrasted, questioned, and evaluated these texts. I found that
many students were not reading outside of class, something that is necessary
in order to meet the challenging reading standards. In addition, some students
who were reading at home were still not questioning and analyzing the texts
as much as they needed to. What, I wondered, was happening outside of school
that was serving as a barrier to independent reading and to in-depth questioning
of the text? Since a child's environment outside of school does indeed make
such a difference in a child's achievement, how can the school help to raise
the social capital of that environment?
- Parent and student surveys about what students
do in the evenings and what they perceive to
get in the way of reading.
- Interviews with five parents and their children
who attended a workshop on supporting reading
- Notes from parent-teacher conferences in
November and February
- Notes from weekly reading conferences with
students in my reading class
- Student reading logs--records of their thoughts
on the books they are reading independently
- Field notes from visiting
to Student Achievement of the Reading
parents were not aware of or able to monitor
how their children were spending their
with parents on limit-setting and explain
to them the technology of modems and internet
software so that they can limit computer
students go to after-school programs that
do not adequately support reading development.
Those who go straight home after school
often do not have a quiet place to read.
with the directors of after-school programs
and explain how they can support reading
lack understanding of how to support their
children's reading development.
workshops for parents to explain the reading standards
and model strategies for parents to support
the reading standards in their primary
language, such as how to start book talks
do not have access to enough interesting
and appropriately-leveled books or to quiet
places to read.
sure students bring appropriately-
leveled, interesting books home with them.
Provide other avenues for access to books,
and lobby support from the whole community
for more books. Talk
to parents about lighting for reading.
School budgeting: Money for translation
of band-outs, workshops, and parent-teacher
conferences. Funding to expanding school libraries.
School or District Collaboration with After-School
Programs: Collaboration between independent
after-school programs and teachers to make
sure programs are supporting reading.
City budgeting: Extending library hours
and increasing the pace of the renovations of
School Scheduling: Period for independent
reading in a room where there is a large selection
of books and an experienced literacy teacher
with whom to confer.
Teacher contract: Per-session pay or
need to have a contract that provides for extended
parent conferences and preparation and delivery
of parent workshops.
Professional development: Include discussion
of cultural barriers such as lack of discussion
about reading at home and tips for setting realistic
expectations for homework.
Board of Education: City-wide English
standards need to be translated into languages
spoken by all stakeholders.