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Video touts Oakland’s Open Court reading program

By Katy Murphy
Wednesday, June 18th, 2008 at 11:28 am in NCLB, school reform, students, teachers.

Some of you had plenty to say about Oakland’s Open Court reading program in an earlier post — that it’s not challenging enough for advanced students, that it’s too scripted, etc. Well, not everyone agrees with you naysayers.

While honoring OUSD for its “Achievement in Reading,” Open Court publisher SRA/McGraw-Hill made this commercial (I mean, short film) about how the reading program has helped to turn the district around.

Watch the video here, and then tell us if you haven’t seen the light.

image from woodleywonderworks’ site at flickr.com/creativecommons

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  • hills parent

    Of course SRA would tout Oakland. They are making a bundle of money from OUSD. The question to ask is why districts in our surrounding area refuse to even consider Open Court.

    As a parent of an advanced child, Open Court has very well served to stunt her growth as a reader. She entered kindergarten as a reader and spent the year being told that all students review their alphabet and sounds. Now the question is: Is this due to Open Court or to how OUSD is implementing it in the classrooms. Is OUSD so intent on bringing up the standards of those students at below standard that they are willing, as demonstrated, to toss aside the education of those students who enter kindergarten already having met the kindergarten standards.

    Maybe SRA should speak to those parents, such as myself, who have seen no evidence of educational advancement in my child as a result of Open Court. Maybe SRA should make suggestions as to how Open Court can be successfully implemented with advanced students.

    Open Court has not been “so open” to the educational advancement of my child. Maybe it should be Open Court for Remediation.

  • hills parent

    I notice that the video did not showcase any of the “hills” schools. Just wondering

  • Debora

    Okay, I have my own opinion about Open Court. I tried to put aside that opinion as I watched the entire video, okay, it wasn’t very long.

    Several observations: I heard children reading, but I did not see from their eyes, or hear their voices that there was comprehension. The piece about England which was used in two or three examples specifically demonstrated that the kids were reading without comprehension. There seemed to be no discussion and reference back to the material for interest and comprehension – just droning through the words.

    The second thing I noticed in the film is that, except for the students who were showing us on film they could read, every student, regardless of ability was sitting on the rug, or at their desks being taught the same thing at the same time. I heard the narrator talk about how kids below, at and above grade level could be taught using the program, but NONE of the actual classroom demonstrations showed that as fact. Everyone, regardless of ability was taught the same thing at the same time.

    The third thing I noticed is that they did not feature the tear out books used by kindergarten and first grade students. The books looked like those used for third graders. If that is so, the reading ability demonstrated was not impressive for a third grade student.

  • Nextset

    The video is pure propaganda – which isn’t always a bad thing. It is a sales piece. I wouldn’t try to make much of it.

    It’s nice to see people working with literacy on 3rd graders. Our problem is the crashing stats as these OUSD children hit puberty. No amount of teaching can make up for students who walk away from academics at puberty and discover themselves in sex, drugs and IPods – especially when the school insists in keeping the “walk away” students in with those who do want to pursue academics and the whole program tanks.

  • Sharon

    I second you on that, Nextset. If only sex, drugs and IPods were the only thing they embraced. It gets a lot more criminal and antisocial than that.

    Whatever program is being used, it’s relatively easy to maneuver younger kids into compliance. As the video demonstrates, they are as adorable as can be.

    They’re a lot less cute in late elementary and middle school when they begin to tune out because they want to head down a different path. Where they want to go doesn’t require academic skills, but definitely requires ultra-advanced “street” skills. Having decided that school is irrelevant, but still being forced to attend, they end up wreaking havoc on campus. The serious students are the one’s who suffer. The district really needs to get a grip on this somehow.

  • John

    The devil is in the “somehow.”

  • Ed

    There is an independent work time as part of the Open Court program which is when the teacher differentiates though it’s not shown in the video. I don’t disagree with much of what’s been said but even in schools that do not use Open Court, most teachers do teach all students the same thing at the same time. So I wouldn’t necessarily attribute Open Court with stunting students’ reading enthusiasm as much as I would ask teachers what they’re doing to enrich and challenge gifted students regardless of the program they’re teaching.