Studying Shakespeare Brings School 40% Jump in Test Scores.
by Annie Holmquist
America’s student scores in reading, math, and science are nothing to write home about. At best, 21 percent of 4th-graders are proficient in math. At worst, only 21 percent of 12th-graders are proficient in science. Not a pretty picture.
But a recent experiment at a British secondary school may offer a way for American schools to boost those poor scores. The secret weapon? Teach Shakespeare.
According to the UK Guardian, several years ago King Ethelbert’s school was a low-performing institution. Only 14 percent of its students were able to attain proficiency in tests similar to the graduation exams which U.S. students take. Many of the students were also from low socio-economic backgrounds.
“The school has seen an improvement across all subjects, not only English, since starting the project. During a recent Shakespeare-themed week, maths lessons covered iambic pentameter while science lessons involved detailed investigations of deaths in the plays.
History teacher Jordan Underwood says students have arrived at his lessons keen to study the history of the plays they have performed.”
The most concrete evidence of the program’s success? Proficiency on the school’s exit exams has risen from 14 percent to 55 percent.