Dr. Sandra L. Stotsky, professor emerita at the University of Arkansas, recently said that Renaissance Learning’s latest report revealed that a large number of college freshman are reading at a seventh-grade level.
Stotsky, who received her Ed. D. from Harvard, is a well-known and respected figure in the world of education. She served on the Common Core Validation Committee in 2009-10 and, along with colleague James Milgram, professor of mathematics at Stanford University, refused to approve Common Core’s standards, which she called “inferior.”
In a recent interview with Breitbart Texas, Stotsky said:
We are spending billions of dollars trying to send students to college and maintain them there when, on average, they read at about the grade 6 or 7 level, according to Renaissance Learning’s latest report on what American students in grades 9-12 read, whether assigned or chosen.
Stotsky also pointed out that as a result of students reading on a lower level of difficulty and complexity in high school, colleges now assign a lower reading level of books as summer reading to incoming freshmen.
Stotsky expanded on her statement to Breitbart: “The average reading level for five of the top seven books assigned as summer reading by 341 colleges using Renaissance Learning’s readability formula was rated 7.56.”
A level of 7.56 reflects reading on a level of grade 7 at about the sixth-month mark.
Some of the statistics cited by Breitbart came from “How Colleges Are Dumbing Our Kids Down, Too, and What We Can Do About It,” an article written by Stotsky posted online by Pioneer Institute last November 3. In that article, Stotsky wrote:
It’s not just Common Core’s standards and the curriculum teachers are putting into place to address those standards that are dumbing our kids down. Our colleges are contributing in their own way to the problem by the books they assign incoming freshmen to read in the summer for their first “common experience.”
Stotsky continued by noting the reading levels of 53 of the most frequently mentioned titles listed in the NAS (National Association of Scholars) report, Beach Books 2013-2014: What Do Colleges and Universities Want Students to Read Outside Class? The readability levels of 23 of the 53 titles were available, with an average ATOS book level of 6.8. (An ATOS [Advantage-TASA Open Standard] level on a book indicates how difficult the text is to read.) The highest ATOS book level found was 10.2 and the lowest ATOS book level found was 4.0 (fourth-grade reading level!).