Third Graders

mustish1 used Ask the Experts™
React to the goal of having 75% of all third graders reading on grade level by 2025.
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a reasonable goal. Perhaps a bit low
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

The goal is far too low. 90% of third graders should read at grade level within the next 3 years.

Otherwise functional illiteracy will abound.
apparently (and unfortunately), the Republicans do not believe that public education should be federally funded (i.e. education, like so many other aspects of life in the US) should be privatized.

so, with that in mind, perhaps "75% of all third graders reading on grade level by 2025" is the best you can hope for
I agree that 75% is too low, but may still be appropriate.  Goals need to be realistic in order to have the methods be appropriate.

A couple of important questions:
Where are we at now?
What we be the cost to get to this goal?  I'm assuming this isn't free.  We'll either have to cut funding for other education or come up with additional funding.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

A low goal seriously waters down the ability to educate people. That (substandard education) is a major problem in the United States.
It depends on where you are.  If you are in a mid to affluent area the USA, that's a seriously low bar.  You should be able to have greater than 95% of them reading at grade level.  It's more like 99% in some of these areas.  If you only look at the wealthier districts, they outperform those of any other country and the vast majority of private schools.  If you're in an impoverished area in the USA, 75% is actually quite a high and difficult goal to achieve.

The USA is a divide in the haves an have nots.  This is the only country of all the top GDP countries that really works like this.  Most other higher GDP countries have better education equality and 75% would be quite a low bar to them.  90% would be reasonable in any of those countries.  People forget that the USA is made up of 50 states.  These states are all different in many ways.  Some states are quite mixed.

The reason the affluent areas do better in the USA is because the parents have time to be involved with the education and they have money.  The affluent schools don't actually have better teachers  or more public funding.  In fact, some of those teachers are so poor that parents have tried to get rid of them, but can't do anything because of tenure.  In the meantime, they hire tutors to fill in the gaps.  In many of those areas, the county siphons the extra cash to the poorer areas and the affluent community gets together and donates time and money to keep the arts and other programs funded.  In the poor areas, those important programs just get cut.  The school becomes semi-private and the parents put greater demands on the school as if they were their own private schools.  They'll keep funding them to make sure they get their say.

Unfortunately, the poor don't have the money to spend on education.  Many of them work 3 part time jobs, because the consumer industry has decided that they won't employ full time workers anymore so that they won't have to pay benefits.  They can't focus on the children, because they can only get paid if they're at work.  They're not salaried.  They have no benefits.  They only get paid for the hours at work.  They only go to the emergency room when they're deathly ill, costing everyone more.

In affluent towns across the USA, the public schools are much better than private schools.  In mix rich & poor school districts, there are many more private schools that siphon away the money from the public school system, so the public schools continue to perform more poorly.   In the really poor areas, they don't even have private schools, just "charter schools" and experimental schools that people from the mixed areas propose because they see that false dichotomy in their own neighborhoods.  It's not the privatization that makes those schools better, it's the affluence.

It's the parents that have enough money that they can spend time educating their children.  Poor people don't have that luxury of time to spend with their children.  Many of them work 60-80 hours for 6-7 days a week, just to make ends meet.  How do they have time to educate their children?  They bring their children to work on the weekends.  The schools only teach the basics.  It's the parents that teach everything else.  Schools in poor neighborhoods are basically there to keep the kids off the streets.  They've been built like jails for the past 30 years.
There is one other issue that, in my opinion, has been affecting the literacy of school children.  Dependency on mobile phones and text-based messaging as the main means of communication has resulted in a whole generation (perhaps now even two generations) that "converse" in a form of short-hand using abbreviations, acronyms, and ideograms.  I fully agree with a lot of what serialband said in the comment above, and in particular with the statement: "The schools only teach the basics.  It's the parents that teach everything else."  What chance do many children of school age have when their parents are glued to their smartphones sending inane LOLs and emojis and don't do anything to discourage that same dependency in their children?

I see young adults in the work environment who can't write or type a properly structured sentence and their written communications are absolutely riddled with the most fundamental spelling and grammar errors.  Since they stopped teaching "The Times Tables" in school, on the assumption that nobody in this era needs to do long-hand calculatulations with the availability of electronic devices, I regularly see young adults in the workplace who cannot perform even mundane counting tasks without reaching for their mobile phones.

A basic example I witnessed a few nights ago was a young man having to count the contents of 7 pallets where each pallet contained 12 uniformly sized boxes per layer stacked to 9 layers.  It was a secure environment containing high value goods where mobile phones are disallowed.  This lad can hold an intelligent and authoritative conversation covering a wide range of topics, and he is certainly not mentally deficient or uneducated, but he could not add and multiply mentally or on paper and had to ask for a calculator.  Similarly, when asked to write down notes, he has great difficulty with forming logical sentences.

Another lad of roughly the same age has just been promoted to "transport assistant" despite the fact that he cannot work out drivers' hours and compulsory breaks, miles per gallon, unladen and laden weights of vehicles, load capacities based on known commodity volumes, and route mileages.  His writing is a childish mixture of uppercase, lowercase, title case and sentence case that is either devoid of punctuation or wrongly punctuated, and in his typed communications (emails and memos) he does not appear to recognise the difference between the vernacular / colloquialisms / vulgar slang and proper English, nor the times when formality is a requirement (for example liaising with a customer).  The spelling mistakes he makes are atrocious.  To put it bluntly it is quite embarrassing.

(by the way, any missing "H" letters in this are not bad spelling, it's my keyboard)

These two examples are not unusual in my experience.  These are not "forgotten skills" as might happen when somebody hasn't used a set of learned skills for many years.  These are skills that appear never to have been properly taught, or not enough emphasis was given to ensuring that they had been learned.  From what I have seen in the last 8 or more years literacy and numeracy are on a downward slide because the education system did place enough emphasis on ensuring that school leavers would be proficient in either discipline.  As has been said though, a lot of this starts in the home and much of it is the responsibility of parents.  A recent survey involving many thousands of primary school teachers in the United Kingdom revealed that most children starting scool did not have the manual dexterity to hold a pencil or crayon, and teachers had to first teach the children how to hold such an implement before actually teaching them to write.  That manual dexterity should be acquired by children during their pre-school years while playing with toys and games that require "assembly" of smaller parts (jigsaws, cutting, gluing and pasting, etc) and by drawing and scribbling with crayons.  Instead many children are being allowed to play constantly with mobile electronic devices that require a different (and much more limited) form of dexterity.

I find it quite frightening, and would welcome more stringent requirements on literacy and numeracy in schools.
The evidence of declining educational standards is all around us, but people are increasingly too ignorant to perceive it, or too apathetic to care.
This decline is particularly noticeable in the UK as well as the US, and the reasons listed above are familiar in the UK as well.
The movie Idiocracy has a pretty funny take on the state of our culture.

In CA ,the educational bar gets lowered when too many folks fail to graduate public schools in general.
LAUSD  has something like a 33% drop out rate.

For the most part ,if public schools can just get folks to an 8th grade reading level,it's like a M$ software product,good enough,but far from excellent
Mobile phones are not the reason.  They are a symptom of the problem.  The rich people start kids on phones and tech just as early, if not earlier, because they can afford it.  Those kids are still well read and better manage their time than the kids from poor neighborhoods.  You need parental guidance, and richer areas guide their children to the point of helicoptering around them.

The reason for the LAUSD to have such low scores is because of high poverty levels in much of the district.  The phones are not the reason.

The US has always set 8th grade level as the required  level for reading.  Newspapers are set at 8th grade reading level.  In East Asia, all newspaper writing is at least post high school level.

Idiocracy is an exaggeration.  Every generation believes their own to be superior to those that follow.  That's not the actual case long term.  There might be periods in history where we do regress, but throughout human history, so far, we've improved upon our knowledge and intelligence.  Subsequent generations have performed better.

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”
 -- Socrates

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