Many students struggle with the high standards and difficult coursework of college. University of Arkansas professor, Sandra Stotsky, identifies the problem as a lack of increased difficulty in reading requirements throughout high school.
Stotsky collected data in a 2010 national survey of high school English teachers and in a similar study focusing on Arkansas educators. The conclusions were clear: the difficulty of assigned reading material for high school students only becomes slightly more difficult from ninth through 11th grades.
In her book, The Death and Resurrection of a Coherent Literature Curriculum: What Secondary English Teachers Can Do, Stotsky identifies five key principles increase literacy competency:
- Texts read in the early part of the year should have links to texts read later in the year or in future years.
- Assigned reading should increase throughout the school year and subsequent years.
- Reading should be over important works that have stimulated the imagination of students and writers from the time of their writing to the current day.
- Historical and cultural readings should be staged throughout the high school education due to their reading difficulty.
- Nonfiction readings should provide context for some of the fiction read in the course.
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