Reading in the NYT

This op-ed makes the obvious and generally correct point that reading is not a skill, but is determined largely through prior knowledge of content. I am somewhat disappointed, however, to note that the article does not address the other side of reading; namely, what a reader does when they read a passage with unfamiliar content. The ‘baseball’ test that the article cites avoids the obvious; if both ‘low-skilled’ readers and ‘high-skilled’ readers are given passages with unfamiliar content, the latter group will do far better, because they have, and use, the flexible strategies needed to process new content.  In other words, the reading tests are flawed, yes, but a more effective strategy than making all the reading passages tied directly to the curriculum would be to make half of them deliberately unfamiliar to the curriculum in question; then both sides of the reading equation are measured.

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