Typically when we compare American kids to their international counterparts, we look at test scores. And while that data is both useful and important, Education Week writer Sarah D. Sparks digs through recent data from the National Center on Education Statistics to pull five notable differences about the context of how American kids learn in “Five Ways U.S. Education Differs From Other G-20 Countries.”
Two of the five were surprising.
First, Sparks writes if you look at the data, “U.S. students are kinda ‘meh’ about reading.” Only 33 percent of girls and 20 percent of boys “reported enjoying reading.” Among the G-20 nations, “only girls in Italy and Russia and boys in England, Italy, and Saudi Arabia had lower rates of reading enjoyment than U.S. students.”
Second, even though American kids don’t appear to enjoy reading, our schools are overflowing with reading specialists. Sparks reports that the U.S. has more reading specialists than other countries, and that American teachers were “far more likely than those in other countries to say that a reading specialist was always on hand to help students.”
It’s unclear why, if our school systems do such a good job staffing our schools with reading teachers, American kids nonetheless love reading less than nearly all of their international counterparts. Perhaps love of reading and the skill of reading are two different things, or at a minimum maybe the first does not necessarily flow the second. But given the substantial investment in time and talent we’re making in reading instruction, it’s worth asking what we can do to help instill a love of reading in all (or certainly a lot more) of our kids, and whether the reading specialist model is achieving its goals.
Read the rest of Sparks’ “Five Ways U.S. Education Differs From Other G-20 Countries” here.