Can kids spel?
July 2, 2012 10:13 PM   Subscribe

Is there any evidence that literacy (particularly spelling) standards of attainment have dropped in recent times, in the Anglosphere? Looking for citable evidence only.
posted by wilful to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What timescale are you talking about when you say "recent"?
posted by brainmouse at 10:32 PM on July 2, 2012

Any sort of data would be good. More to refute (or maybe even support) the "kids these days" sorts of claims that are made. The last decade? The last four decades in beautiful time series?
posted by wilful at 10:34 PM on July 2, 2012

You probably want the NAEP.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:59 PM on July 2, 2012

This topic is frequently discussed at Language Log. Peer reviewed linguistic (and other) research is also commonly cited. I can't point to a specific post where those two things coincide, but I'd be surprised if a at least a couple didn't exist. If you go there and search for "texting", I think you'll find some of it. "twitter" might be another good search term.

Sometimes, the authors will also do quick little experiments - statistical analyses of google search results or searches from English language corpora.

So far, mostly what I've found is posts where the authors have some fun digging up examples of "kids these days" critiques throughout the ages: WWII, Victorian England, Ancient Rome, plus many contemporary examples. They offer interesting, serious critiques (entertaining, too), but I haven't found any citations to real research. If you look harder than I have, I bet you'll find some.

Anyway, here are some relevant LL posts, including a couple with what they sometimes call "breakfast experiments":
posted by stuart_s at 12:33 AM on July 3, 2012

What does txting do 2 language? The influences of exposure to messaging and print media on acceptability constraints--study by Joan Lee for her master's thesis in linguistics at University of Calgary (2012)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:45 AM on July 3, 2012

Part of the problem with judging standards of attainment is that we are now working to educate students who not very long ago simply would have had their education cut short. Not that long ago, dropping out of school in high school (or even middle school or elementary school) was a real option (or necessity) for anyone too poor, too disabled, or too brown to "make it." Now, we try to not just give access to education to everybody, but to actually successfully educate everybody. This changes the population you are sampling from and really messes with statistics. So I'm sure you could find some citations that say that when measured in a particular way, standards have fallen, but put in context of the changing populations in our schools, what does that really mean?
posted by yeolcoatl at 1:12 AM on July 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

Poor students have free access to up to high school and those samples have declined. It can't be explained (solely) by class
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 7:11 AM on July 3, 2012

What is your evidence for that, Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth?
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:47 PM on July 3, 2012

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