Want to know why kids can't read and write? Read the jargon-riddled report by the Educational Testing Service, and you'll get the idea. For example:

- "In general, this synthesis of students' achievement and the environments in which they learn suggests that we are at an educational crossroads, and a comprehensive change en route can have an extensive impact on the future of student learning. A number of implications that arise from the composite of reports discussed here can be particularly informative. When school and home variables support academic achievement, students are more likely to be academically successful."Translation: Kids who get encouragement at home and at school seem to learn better.

- "Approximately 15 percent of the high school students reported that they were not assigned homework or did not do it, and these students had noticeably lower proficiency levels than did their classmates who reported regularly spending time on homework. The more homework eleventh-grade students reported, the higher their proficiency levels were likely to be. Results at lower grade levels also showed consistent relationships with proficiency, but the amount of homework associated with optimum performance varied somewhat."

Translation: Kids who do homework do better in school.

- "Although many educators argue that increased course-taking is essential to strengthen students' academic proficiency, simply increasing the amount of course work is likely to be insufficient to bring proficiency up to expected levels. There are other aspects of the educational system that must also be addressed. For example, curricular reforms may be warranted."

Translation: There's something wrong with what kids are being taught.