Arundel reading program gains parents' favor

August 13, 2002|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,SUN STAFF

Most Anne Arundel County parents approve of the new sixth-grade reading program that provides two periods of language arts instruction every day by taking time away from electives, according to a survey ordered by the county school board.

But many of the 3,115 parents surveyed said they wanted more information from teachers about their children's reading progress.

The survey, the results of which were released last week, was conducted by the school system in May to help gauge the success of a reading program that has been criticized by parents who wanted to preserve elective courses. Two-thirds of parents who responded to the survey said the program increased their children's progress in reading and writing, and 90 percent believed their children to be good readers.

"We were gratified by the response," said Ruth Bowman, the school system's reading coordinator. "Eighty percent of parents responded that their children talk about what they read and would like to read."

But the results of the survey have not ended the debate over the value of the program. The school system wrote and conducted the survey, and that led some parents to question it.

Critics said the questions - such as whether parents believe their child is a better reader this year than last year - were designed to elicit favorable responses.

"They didn't ask the right questions," said Terra Ziporyn Snider, the mother of a Severna Park Middle School pupil who is entering seventh grade. "You would hope that after another year of school they'd be a better writer and reader. But that doesn't tell you whether the program worked."

Snider said the survey should have asked parents if they felt the trade-off - more reading time instead of electives - was worth it. She also said it should have asked if parents got written feedback on their children's work. She said she didn't.

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