Babies Can’t Read

Evidence that a growing segment of baby products may be made by hucksters:

Targeted to children as young as 3 months old, there is a growing number of baby media products that claim to teach babies to read. This randomized controlled trial was designed to examine this claim by investigating the effects of a best-selling baby media product on reading development. One hundred and seventeen infants, ages 9 to 18 months, were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. Children in the treatment condition received the baby media product, which included DVDs, word and picture flashcards, and word books to be used daily over a 7-month period; children in the control condition, business as usual. Examining a 4-phase developmental model of reading, we examined both precursor skills (such as letter name, letter sound knowledge, print awareness, and decoding) and conventional reading (vocabulary and comprehension) using a series of eye-tracking tasks and standardized measures. Results indicated that babies did not learn to read using baby media, despite some parents displaying great confidence in the program’s effectiveness.

And speaking of products with false claims, USC Morgan Polikoff is beginning to unleash his research on the meaningless practice of calling a textbook “Common Core Aligned.”

Publishers are marketing all kinds of new textbooks they say align with the Common Core standards.

In reality, “they do not look that different from the previous versions,” said Morgan Polikoff, an associate professor at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California.

In a study debuted last weekend at an Education Writers Association conference in Los Angeles, Polikoff analyzed three “Common-Core aligned” fourth-grade math textbooks adopted in Florida and one commonly used textbook that is not aligned to any particular standards.

He found that 15 to 20 percent of textbooks cover topics outside the Common Core standards, while 10 to 15 percent of the standards are not reflected in the texts.

In the long run, this probably isn’t a big deal, but over the next few years it’s going to be a big pain to get this right.

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