How did Hester Prynne's burning at the stake make you feel?

See all posts

The reading ability of American high school graduates has declined over the last twenty years, as shown by NAEP scores and the number of college freshmen required to take remedial English or reading classes (currently more than one-fourth of traditional freshmen). Part of the problem may be that high school English teachers are spending less time teaching their students how to parse texts.

A survey of a national sample of English teachers reports that students are twice as likely to spend time in an English class making personal connections to books than reading them critically--even when studying literary nonfiction. While teachers incorporate "critical reading" activities into 20 to 30 percent of their classes, they much more commonly (40 to 60 percent) seek out their students' opinions or reactions to text.

Surprisingly, English teachers are even less likely to require students to delve into texts when teaching nonfiction than fiction. Instead, time is spent on the biographical or historical context of literary nonfiction.