The Science of Reading

Leila Fletcher (Madison West High School Senior):

Simpson Street Free Press is invested in and applies the science of reading with our students. We have for decades.

It is true, however, that debates about reading instruction continue. Teachers and reading specialists continually discuss—and dispute—what methods of reading instruction are truly most effective, and ultimately, what method should be used in our schools.

Today, in our country, reading levels continue to decrease; only two-thirds of fourth graders can read at grade level, which leads to high school seniors still unable to meet proficiency. The numbers in Wisconsin are among the worst in the country. And reading results in Madison are at crisis level.

Many experts believe this is a result of the instructional methods that teachers nationwide are instructed in and taught to use. These instructional methods, called the “three-cueing” system, teach students compensation strategies that struggling readers come to depend on after falling behind without having learned to read. All students in three-cueing classrooms are being taught this way, and as reading researcher David Kilpatrick has noted, “[t]he three-cueing system is the way poor readers read.”

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.