Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Print versus digital books research

 "While a recent study concluded that paper books yielded better comprehension than e-books when many of the digital tools had been removed, the effect sizes were small. A 2021 meta-analysis further muddies the water: When digital and paper books are “mostly similar,” kids comprehend the print version more readily—but when enhancements like motion and sound “target the story content,” e-books generally have the edge. There’s plenty of evidence that writing with pen and paper encodes learning more deeply than typing. But new digital book formats come preloaded with powerful tools that allow readers to annotate, look up words, answer embedded questions, and share their thinking with other readers." (excerpted from Eutopia)

Furenes, M. I., Kucirkova, N., & Bus, A. G. (2021). A Comparison of Children’s Reading on Paper Versus Screen: A Meta-Analysis. Review of Educational Research91(4), 483–517.

Race and gender in children's books research

 Using artificial intelligence, researchers combed through 1,130 children’s books written in the last century, comparing two sets of diverse children’s books—one a collection of popular books that garnered major literary awards, the other favored by identity-based awards. The software analyzed data on skin tone, race, age, and gender. Among the findings: While more characters with darker skin color begin to appear over time, the most popular books—those most frequently checked out of libraries and lining classroom bookshelves—continue to depict people of color in lighter skin tones. More insidiously, when adult characters are “moral or upstanding,” their skin color tends to appear lighter. (excerpted from Eutopia)

Adukia, A. et al. (2021). Wajt we teach about race and gender: What  representation in images and text in children's books. Brown University Annenberg Institute.

Friday, December 10, 2021

ebooks versus print books research

"Ebooks have surged in popularity since the pandemic began, however, new research led by Natalia Kucirkova, professor of Early Childhood and Development at the University of Stavanger in Norway and Open University, found that young children were less likely to understand ebooks unless they had effective enhancements. “We found a negative impact of digital books on children’s (ages 1-8) learning when comparing digital and print books, mirroring the results of meta-analyses with adult readers,” Kucirkova says. But her research also demonstrated that when it comes to childhood reading not all digital books are equal. 'Our results are significantly moderated by the design of the tested digital books and may reflect the rather low quality of enhancements in the digital books available for young children.'” (excerpted from Ofgang, Dec. 10, 2021, Tech & Learning)

Furenes, M. I., Kucirkova, N., & Bus, A. G. (2021). A comparison of children’s reading on paper versus screen: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 91(4), 483-517.

And earlier research: Kucirkova, N., & Littleton, K. (2016). The digital reading habits of children. A National Survey of Parents’ Perceptions of and Practices in Relation to Children’s Reading for Pleasure with Print and Digital Books

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Reading habits research

 “The nation’s 13-year-olds are less proficient in math and reading than they were almost a decade ago, according to data collected just before the start of the pandemic…. Nationally, math scores for 13-year-olds fell on average by five points while reading scores declined an average of three points. Nearly 9,000 13-year-olds across 450 schools took the test between October 2019 and December 2019. Along with the test results, the education statistics center also released test takers’ responses to survey questions about their reading habits and coursework. A lower percentage of 13-year-olds reported regularly reading for fun almost every day than the share of students who said they did so a decade ago. And students who say they read more got higher scores.”

NAEP Long-Term Trend Assessment Results: Reading and Mathematics. National Assessment Governing Board. Oct. 2021

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Youth's Leisure Reading Decline Study

 The shares of American 9- and 13-year-olds who say they read for fun on an almost daily basis have dropped from nearly a decade ago and are at the lowest levels since at least the mid-1980s, according to a survey conducted in late 2019 and early 2020 by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Among 9-year-old students, 42% said in 2020 that they read for fun almost every day, down from 53% in both 2012 and 1984. Among 13-year-olds, 17% said they read for fun almost every day, a smaller percentage than the 27% who said this in 2012 and roughly half the share (35%) who said this in 1984. It is unclear whether the pandemic may have changed these patterns.

National Assessment of Educational Progress. (2021). 2020 long-term trend reading assessment. National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Teen screen time study


Researchers surveyed over 5,000 adolescents, mostly those ages 12 and 13, and found that recreational screen time among teens rose twofold to almost eight hours per day during pandemic lockdowns, compared with before the pandemic. The findings in JAMA Pediatrics also showed that Hispanic and Black teens and teens from lower-income families had more screen time use. Recreational screen time among U.S. teens doubled from before the pandemic to nearly eight hours per day during the pandemic, according to the report. And this estimate doesn't include time spent on screens for remote learning or schoolwork, so the total was likely much higher. "More screen time was linked to poorer mental health and greater stress among teens," said lead researcher Dr. Jason Nagata. "Although social media and video chat can be used to foster social connection, we found that teens reporting higher screen use felt less social support during the pandemic."

Nagata, J., Pietra, P., & Wartella, E. (2021, Nov. 1). Screen Time Use Among US Adolescents During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Findings From the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. JAMA Pediatrics. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.4334

Monday, November 1, 2021

Academic success factors study

Curiosity and persistence are the strongest predictors of academic success in math and reading, according to a study of students in 11 countries, including the US. The study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is the first major global assessment of students' social and emotional skills.

Schleicher, A. (2021). Beyond academic learning. OECD.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Children's social media use survey

The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health found that 32% of children ages 7 to 9 and 49% of children ages 10 to 12 use social media apps. The findings, based on a survey of 1,030 parents, also showed that 35% of parents said their child was taught about the safe use of social media apps in school, and that these parents were more likely to report that their child uses these apps.

National Poll: 1/3 of children ages 7-9 use social media apps. (2018).

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Report on 3rd graders' reading ability

 This report ranks 287 California school districts, which have 100+ socio-economically-disadvantaged/Hispanic/LatinX 3rd graders, on their “effectiveness in teaching reading by 3rd grade.” The authors found that “it is not the students themselves, or the level of resources, that drive student reading achievement - the primary drivers are district focus on reading, management practices, and curriculum and instruction choices.” One surprising finding is that “none of the top performing districts are located in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay Area contains nearly half of the lowest performing districts, including large districts like San Francisco Unified, Oakland Unified, and West Contra Costa County Unified.  By contrast, Southern California has 80% of the high performing districts, led by Los Angeles County, where over half of all ranked districts are in the top 20% statewide. Fresno County is also a standout, with 4 of the top 30 districts (including 2 of the top 5), while making up only 1% of all ranked districts.”

The First Annual California Reading Report Card. California Reading Coalition. Sept. 2021.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Public Schooling for Undocumented and Asylum-Seeking Children Study

 Migration over the U.S. southwest border in the past decade has been composed of growing numbers of undocumented and asylum-seeking families and children from Mexico and Central America. By U.S. law, states must provide education to all children, regardless of immigration status. Yet sufficient information needed for policymaking is lacking, in particular about the ages and geographic locations of the children by state and district, needs for teachers and staff to accommodate these children, and experiences and good practices in schools.

To fill this gap, the authors model the numbers of such children by state, review the federal and state policy landscapes, and provide case studies of how schools are managing education. The report specifically aims to help various stakeholders understand the broad range of issues and implications related to population increases in undocumented and asylum-seeking children over the southwest border.

Key Findings

  • Growing numbers of undocumented and asylum-seeking children from Central America and Mexico are arriving in the United States.
  • Approximately 575,000 were encountered at the border from FYs 2017 to 2019, and 321,000 were enrolled in U.S. schools in 2020.
  • Federal law establishes the rights of these children to public education.
  • The two case study school districts, Jefferson Parish Schools and Oakland Unified School District, were making efforts to provide quality education for this population and address challenges through innovating and learning.
  • However, gaps remain in the supports needed in the education of these newcomers, including those related to data, educational resources, funding, and nonacademic supports.
Culbertson, S. (2021). educaeting newcomers. Rand.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Australian teen reading attitudes survey

 The following infographic summarizes an survey of 15 year old Australians.

Underwood, C. (2021). Snapshots, April 2021: What do Australian 15 year olds think about reading? ACER.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Graded readers are becoming real literature

 Graded readers are becoming real literature

Stephen Krashen, August, 2021 


I have been in quarantine for the last year, and I am reluctant to give it up. I have been exercising, practicing the piano, doing research, and …. reading. I have been trying to improve my Spanish by reading lots of easy texts, graded readers, following the advice of Beniko Mason. (I have read “authentic” Spanish, but it has been a struggle.)  And I think it is working. 


I have discovered that graded readers in Spanish have improved in quality in recent years. They have graduated from “simple stories for students” to real literature.  Until recently, I had two favorite authors writing in this genre: Bill VanPatten (e.g Angel) and Adriana Ramirez (e.g. Me Perdi en Medallin, Rigo).  I just added a third: Kristy Placido. I just finished reading her book, Testigo, La Historia de Brayan. Not just interesting, but compelling, and it gets more and more compelling as you read. And I just ordered another Placido title. 


Middle schoolers and praise study

 Middle-school students respond more to praise than criticism, especially when it comes to curbing problem behaviors, a study found. By making a point of praising desired behaviors at least as much as reprimanding undesirable behaviors, teachers improved overall class conduct by up to 70%, researchers noted.

Caldarella, P. , Larsen, R., & Williams, L. (2021). Effects of middle school teachers' praise-to-reprimand ratios on students' classroom behavior. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Administrators and school librarians study

 A recent study explores how school district leaders can foster the development of effective school libraries in which school librarians serve as instructional leaders of multiple literacies. "Results revealed two main barriers that inhibit the development of an effective school library: a) ambiguous administrative expectations for school librarians, and b) school librarians’ limited participation in the K–12 instructional program. Conversely, results demonstrated that positive relationships serve as significant supports for enabling school librarians to function as instructional leaders of multiple literacies."

Lewis, M. (2021). Enabling School Librarians to Serve as Instructional Leaders of Multiple Literacies. School Library Research, 24.

Pandemic and literacy study

 Experts say the pandemic may be interfering with young learners' ability to acquire reading skills, especially those who spend time at home doing other things instead of reading.  An analysis of data found that second- and third-grade students' reading fluency fell approximately 30% from 2019 to 2020. The pandemic also deepened inequities. 

Domingue, B. et al. (2021). Changing patterns of growth in oral reading fluency during the COVID-10 pandemic. PACE.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Pandemic Impact on Education

 COVID-19 has led to unprecedented challenges in the field of education, and now, even with a return to normalcy seemingly on the horizon, uncertainties remain. Over 600 educators were surveyed in an effort to gauge and further understand the current realities of teaching through a pandemic. The insights gained may help educational leaders strategize and plan for the coming year and beyond, as they search to find the best path forward in supporting staff and students.

Some of the findings are:

  • 90% of teachers and staff need to wear PPE.
  • 39% of teachers will teach F2F with no remote option.
  • About 70% teachers used Zoom.
  • In 42% of schools, devices are usually shared. 

Survey Says. (2020). Tech & Learning.


A recent survey conducted during the coronavirus pandemic finds that students cite depression, stress and anxiety as key barriers to learning. The survey also revealed a decline in access to trusted adults among students, with just 39% saying they have a connection to a supportive adult at school.

Learning & well-being during COVID-19(2021). YouthTruth.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

What about accent?


Stephen Krashen & Nooshan Ashtari


1.     Assumption -  accent improvement by hard work and study, conscious learning (Hammond: 51% agree that hard working and intelligent people can always succeed in eliminating foreign accent).

a.     The research: conditions difficult to meet

1.     Know the rule: e.g. comb, combing, combination – what’s the rule?

2.     Focus on form

3.     Time to retrieve & apply the rule

b.    Little research on effect of instruction for “spontaneous conversation” – 

c.     Most effective for “monitored production of specific features (Saito and Plonsky). No clear evidence it works in real conversation

d.    (Some) evidence for improvement without instruction: weak effect 

2.     The club membership hypothesis – instruction,  amount of exposure not the crucial factors

Sub - hypothesis 1: Accent marks belonging to a group

Sub – hypothesis 2: Accent acquired rapidly and well for all ages. LAD never shut off

Sub – hypothesis 3: We do not perform in all the accents we have acquired, because we don’t feel like full members of the group.

Fisher, 1958: typical boys: model boys

Typical: dominating, mischief, more aggressive: short form (goin’, comin’)

Model: thoughtful, considerate: full form (going, coming) 

Typical: shorter form 55% of the time

Model: shorter form: 3% of the time

CAN the model boys use the short form?  (YES, sub-hypothesis 2). 

Do they? (N0, sub-hypothesis 3)

3.     The OUTPUT filter – prevents us from using what we have acquired. (Discomfort)

4.     Examples

a.     1965: A conversation with Gerald Mosback in Addis Ababa. (filter down)

b.    My French falls apart: Univ. of Ottawa (filter up)

c.     I impress my daughter with my French in a Paris coffee shop. (filter down)

5.     Can classes help? Even if class improved accent? The problem lies elsewhere

a.     Rubin: evaluation of ACCENT-FREE English, picture 1 = “typical American looking”. Picture 2, not. Subjects thought picture 2 had an accent! Judgement based on picture, not the accent

b.    Ashtari (2020): Who is the native speaker? Non-NS with American accent selected over native speaker of Indian English. Effect on hiring? 

c.     How this impacts language acquirers.

Ashtari (2014): intermediate, advanced university ESL students: when talking to native speakers, what they say is grammatically correct but NS say they don’t understand, ask them to repeat. 

1)    Less willingness to talk to NS

2)    Prefer other speakers of ESL

d.    Is it their accent?

1)    Probably not. (personal experience)

2)    Problem in mind of native speakers

e.     Are there pedagogical implications of these hypotheses? Help people drop the output filter? Possible for actors (method acting?), occasionally for jokes, to solidify relationships. 

Otherwise: Painful, awkward. (Experience on a train in London.)


Talking to a potential client: Why SK didn’t get the job.

Talking to a civilian on the phone who has experienced this. 

-       P., born in UK, in US for several decades, NO British accent

-       Understood our ability to drop output filter under certain conditions, eg with family 

-       We have a spectrum of accents inside us, but we either consciously or subconsciously decide which one we use based on our environment and people we interact with and how they react to us… 


The LAD never shuts off. 





Ashtari, N. (2014). Non-native speech and feedback: The relationship between non-native speakers’ production and    native speakers’ reaction. The International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 9(2), 9-17. (

Fisher, J. 1958. Social Influences on the Choice of a Linguistic Variant. Word 14: 47-56.



Wednesday, July 28, 2021

School librarian decline study

      A recent report highlights an ongoing decline in the number of districts nationwide with school librarians. According to the findings, there were about 20% fewer librarians during the 2018–2019 school year in the 13,000 districts examined than a decade prior. But the absence of these educators isn’t equally distributed: Smaller, rural districts, and those with higher proportions of English-language learners, Latinx students, and low-income students were more likely to lack a librarian.

     Debra E. Kachel and Keith Curry Lance write: “Most of us know there have been large losses of school librarians over the past two decades. What is less well known—and begs for attention—is that these losses pose a major educational equity issue. In our new study, we found that everyone isn’t losing their librarians; losses tend to occur in districts where there are more students living in poverty, more minority students, and more English-language learners. Districts with fewer such students are far more likely to have and maintain librarians. The other news is that, since 2015–2016, several states have begun to see net increases in their numbers of school librarians.”

School Librarian Investigation: Decline or Evolution? (2021). Seattle: Antioch University.

Public library expenditures and reading scores research

 A study of US public libraries found that library capital investments increases children's attendance at library events 18%, their checkouts by 21%, and visits by 21%. It translated into improve test scores in nearby school districts. A $1000+ per-student capital investment in local public libraries increased reading test scores the .02 standard deviations (not significant for math scores. 

Gilpin, G., Karger, E., & Nencka, F. (2021). The returns to public library investment. Federal Reserach Bank of Chicago.

What matters in reading instruction.... by Susan Ohanian

Published in the Los Angeles Times July 28, 2021.


Reaction to: Op-Ed by Jeremy Adams: The rise of the Zoombies: Lifeless, detached students have returned to my classroom (

“… This fall it will likely become obvious that the calculus student who halfheartedly learned pre-calculus behind an anonymous screen for an entire year won’t be able to soar. Nor will the second-grader who’s asked to read passages when vowels weren’t mastered in first grade.”


Response by Susan Ohanian, published in LA Times, 7/28/21 

I share many of the concerns expressed by Adams, but the absence of vowel instruction definitely isn't one of them.Young children in my classes demonstrated that what literacy experts said was true: Phonics instruction plays a very small role in reading comprehension. What matters is reading aloud to children — a lot — and surrounding children with many books that they want to read. People who worry about those children who arrive in second grade without phonics instruction should know that in Finland, reading instruction doesn’t even begin until age 7 or 8. The Finns, whose children score at the top of international tests, are much more concerned that children have lots of time to play together.

Susan Ohanian, Charlotte, Vt.



Saturday, July 24, 2021

Decline in School Librarians study

 Communication from Stephen Krashen <>: Jul 24 02:12PM -0700

Studies have shown that the presence of a credentialed school librarian results in better reading & writing (e.g. Kachel and Lance, 2013). But according to a recently released report (the SLIDE report; **Lance and Kachel, 2021)**, the number of school librarians fell 20% during the last ten years. In 2009-10, there were 939 students per school librarian, but by 2018-19, it had increased to 1,199 to 1.*

*The usual explanation was that the decrease in school librarians was because of budget, but the SLIDE report **found “no clear relationship between staffing and funding. **Of great interest: ** Nationwide, the number of school administrators increased during this time (**Instructional
Coordinators, by almost 34%; District Administrators, more than 16%, School Administrators, more than 15%.)*
*Most disturbing: **Librarians are less likely to be found in smaller, rural, and poorly funded districts that serve more students in poverty, that serve mostly non-white and Hispanic students, and English Language acquirers. In other words, everybody’s not losing their librarians—mostly
those who depend on libraries the most. *
*Impact of school librarian:
*The SLIDE report: Lance, K. C., & Kachel, D. E. (2021, July). Perspectives on school librarian employment in the United States, 2009-10 to 2018-19. SLIDE: The School Librarian Investigation—Decline or Evolution? *

Friday, July 23, 2021

Reading on and offline research

 "This meta-analysis examines the inconsistent findings across experimental studies that compared children’s learning outcomes with digital and paper books. We quantitatively reviewed 39 studies reported in 30 articles (n = 1,812 children) and compared children’s story comprehension and vocabulary learning in relation to medium (reading on paper versus on-screen), design enhancements in digital books, the presence of a dictionary, and adult support for children aged between 1 and 8 years. The comparison of digital versus paper books that only differed by digitization showed lower comprehension scores for digital books. Adults’ mediation during print books’ reading was more effective than the enhancements in digital books read by children independently. However, with story-congruent enhancements, digital books outperformed paper books. An embedded dictionary had no or negative effect on children’s story comprehension but positively affected children’s vocabulary learning." The researchers also noted that Researchers also found that most of the commercially published e-books explored in the studies didn’t enhance the text in ways that focused children’s attention as adults naturally would when reading a story to a child, such as pointing out main story elements, asking questions, and focusing children’s attention on the chain of events in a story. 


Furenes, M., Kucirkova, N., & Bus, A. (2021). A comparison of children's reading on paper versus screen: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 91(4).

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Mentorship research

New research examines school librarians’ perceptions of the Continuum of Care model for assessment of need, program theory, program process, impact, and efficiency. Researcher Rita Reinsel Soulen extends her prior research with an analysis of practices that enable school librarians to develop mentoring skills, which lead to more opportunities for collaboration with other educators. Her study finds that actions taken by the school librarian may promote new teachers’ resilience, leading to better-defined best practice by school librarians helping new teachers. 

Soulen, R. (2021). Enabling Collaboration through Mentorship: Examining the Role of the School Librarian. School Library Research, 24