Hard to believe I have written 200 posts – the equivalent of 2 books, for no pay, and with surprisingly little pain! Thanks for reading and commenting: the thoughtful back and forth in the comments makes this all worthwhile.

[Oops: I updated the post to provide the link to the graphics site.]

As part of my continuing writing on literacy, I offer a short post – some graphics with a few questions.

The graph below comes from a site that specializes in education data. Here we see a critical data set in the argument over schools and poverty – New York City 3rd grade scores by school vs. SES levels:


3rd grade reading vs. poverty - New York - 2013



The graph is actually interactive: by mousing over a dot you can see the name of each school. Here are a few of the important outliers to the somewhat general trend (the red dots equal charter schools):

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 8.48.18 AMScreen Shot 2015-03-20 at 8.48.28 AMScreen Shot 2015-03-20 at 8.48.40 AM


(You can see just NYC elementary schools here)

My questions are:

  1. How tight is the trend of links to SES and reading comprehension, really? Whatever your biases, just look at the graph: what, precisely, does the graph tell us in detail? Describe the data, don’t just conclude glibly. Describe the variance, especially.
  2. If you are convinced that poverty is everything in school achievement, then what do you make of the dozens of outliers – in both directions?
  3. Why aren’t district and state officials constantly sharing what the good outliers do?
  4. Why aren’t you visiting those schools to learn from them if your results are weaker than those of the outliers?

In my next post, I will look more closely at the do’s and don’ts of using the comprehension strategies. As the previous posts on literacy have shown, many researchers are critical of the way the strategies are taught (or NOT taught), and few studies show solid transfer of learning into independent reading. There is no doubt that comprehension can be improved through teaching cognitive and comprehension strategies; the most common implementation of these strategies is often doomed to fail. Every teacher of reading, ELA, and English needs to understand how and why.