Tag Archives: Sandra Stotsky

Sandra Stotsky Featured on NY Times Blog

As reported earlier in the ALSC blog, ALSC Councillor Sandra Stotsky is bringing her decades of education reform to a new ALSC-funded study on high school literature curricula. The study will gather information on English programs in US high schools, exploring whether or not current programs of study challenge students and adequately prepare them for college-level studies in the humanities. The findings of the study will be published as a forthcoming issue of the ALSC journal Forum.

The New York Times news blog Room for Debate has also taken advantage of Stotsky’s expertise, publishing her response to the recently released results of the National Assessment of Education test. In her piece, she expresses disappointment with plateaued scores in high school English and Mathematics. She suggests a shift in English curricula for grades six through twelve that include more complex works. According to Stotsky, the small average gains in test scores are disproportionate to the thirty-five years of federal and state governmental assistance, despite the minor improvement in the achievement gap separating low-income students from their peers.

Stotsky has worked in the field of education reform for over thirty years and has received numerous grants and awards. ALSC is excited to publish the results of her ongoing study.

– Thom Plasse

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Work Begins on ALSC-sponsored Project on High School Literature Curricula

ALSC Councillor Sandra Stotsky has begun the work of collecting data for the long-anticipated ALSC-sponsored project on high school literature curricula in the U.S. The project has substantial support from the University of Arkansas, The Bradley Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities*, and partnerships with The Concord Review and the California Reading and Literature Project.

Dr. Stotsky has provided ALSC with a basic outline of the project. We hope members and non-members alike will be as pleased and excited about this development as the governors and staff of the Association are. Queries about the project (one of the products of which will be an issue of ALSC’s special topics journal, Forum) can be directed to Sandra Stotsky c/o the ALSC at alsc@bu.edu or 617-358-1990.

Literary and Non-Literary Works and Approaches Used in American High School English Classes.
Project Description: Based on recent surveys and observations, most American students graduate from high school with little literary knowledge and understanding. They also seem to have had minimal exposure to high quality historical nonfiction and other expository texts in their English or history courses. Their reading and writing skills are in decline, according to National Assessment of Educational Progress assessments in grade 12.

This study will gather data on what major literary and non-literary works are being taught in English classes in grades 9-11, how much class time is devoted to literary and non-literary study, and what pedagogical approaches teachers use. We seek to explore the extent to which high school students are sufficiently challenged by what they are assigned to read and write in grades 9-11 so that they can develop the reading and writing skills needed for authentic college-level coursework in the humanities.

Data collection for this study takes two forms. (1) A nationwide representative sample of English teachers in grades 9-11 (about 900) will be interviewed over the telephone by an experienced survey center on their assignments and approaches in teaching literary and non-literary texts. (2) Ten focus group meetings will be held during the fall of 2009 to explore in greater depth issues raised by the interview data. Each focus group will consist of 8-12 English teachers and school librarians.

Data analysis and interpretation will reflect the collaboration of an Advisory Board consisting of members of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics. We anticipate being able to present an accurate picture of the central content of the high school English curriculum in this country at present. We will also make recommendations for a coherent sequence of reading assignments from grade 9 to grade 11 in order to strengthen the high school English curriculum for all students.

*N.B. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this Website do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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