New Bill Would Require Phonics-Based Reading Instruction in California

by Carolyn Jones • CalMatters An Assembly bill introduced this week would require all California schools to teach students to read using the “science of reading,” a phonics-based approach that research shows is a more effective way to teach literacy. AB 2222, introduced by Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, a Democrat from West Covina, is backed by Marshall Tuck, who ran … Continue reading New Bill Would Require Phonics-Based Reading Instruction in California

Phonics Finally Gets Its Due in New York: It took the city’s education bureaucracy 20 years to recognize that the Success Academy approach works.Phonics Finally Gets Its Due in New York:

Eva Moskowitz: American students continue to suffer the effects of pandemic learning loss, as this week’s miserable National Assessment of Educational Progress scores demonstrate. But school closures and lockdowns explain only so much. If you truly wish to understand the dysfunction plaguing U.S. public schools, consider the remarkable story of Joel Greenblatt. A hedge-fund manager … Continue reading Phonics Finally Gets Its Due in New York: It took the city’s education bureaucracy 20 years to recognize that the Success Academy approach works.Phonics Finally Gets Its Due in New York:

Notes on State Phonics Programs

Texas has released its list of approved phonics programs. The good news: some respected products like @ReadingHorizons & @Amplify on the list. List is rounded out by seldom-praised products, tho, with some real surprises. Such as: Wonders, really? https://t.co/OILDABazhs — Karen Vaites (@karenvaites) April 6, 2023

Texas k-3 Phonics Requirements

Texas Education Agency: Each school district and open-enrollment charter school shall provide for the use of a phonics curriculum that uses systematic direct instruction in kindergarten through third grade to ensure all students obtain necessary early literacy skills (TEC §28.0062)

Texas k-3 Phonics Requirements

Texas Education Agency: Each school district and open-enrollment charter school shall provide for the use of a phonics curriculum that uses systematic direct instruction in kindergarten through third grade to ensure all students obtain necessary early literacy skills (TEC §28.0062)

Closed doors or corridors of power? How effective phonics instruction provides access to meaning

Pamela Snow: Jane is impressed that her grandson is “sounding out words he did not know”. Wow indeed! That means her grandson has been taught the transferable skill of decoding – of lifting a previously unseen word off the page – and importantly “words he did not know”. This could either mean he had not seen them … Continue reading Closed doors or corridors of power? How effective phonics instruction provides access to meaning

In Memphis, the Phonics Movement Comes to High School: Literacy lessons are embedded in every academic class. Even in biology.

Sarah Mervosh: But recently, he said, he has made strides, in part because of an unusual and sweeping high school literacy curriculum in Memphis. The program focuses on expanding vocabulary and giving teenagers reading strategies — such as decoding words — that build upon fundamentals taught in elementary school. The curriculum is embedded not just … Continue reading In Memphis, the Phonics Movement Comes to High School: Literacy lessons are embedded in every academic class. Even in biology.

Why problems with literacy instruction go beyond phonics

Natalie Wexler: In the debate over Emily Hanford’s podcast “Sold a Story,” two groups have been vocal: those who agree that teachers have been conned into believing most children learn to read without systematic phonics instruction; and those who, like the 58 educators who signed a letter to the editor of the Hechinger Report, respond that Hanford … Continue reading Why problems with literacy instruction go beyond phonics

Phonics Is Back; Did It Ever Leave Catholic Schools?

Joan Frawley Desmond: Today, Units of Study is reportedly used in about one-quarter of U.S. elementary schools. But its primary author, Lucy Calkins, an influential Columbia University Teachers College professor, has been accused of failing millions of students who needed evidence-based techniques for building literacy, prompting her to add more phonics to her program. And … Continue reading Phonics Is Back; Did It Ever Leave Catholic Schools?

Former education journalist: How I missed the phonics story

Maureen Downey: Patti Ghezzi covered education for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 1996 until 2006. In a guest column today, Ghezzi writes about the big story she says she missed while covering Georgia schools — the phonics story. It wasn’t until years after she left the beat that Ghezzi said she realized widespread problems with how … Continue reading Former education journalist: How I missed the phonics story

Phonics, Failure, and the Public Schools

David Boaz: But increasingly parents and teachers are pushing back against “whole language” and “balanced literacy” theories. They cite decades of research on how children actually learn to read and write. In 1997 Congress instructed the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development to work with the Department of Education to establish a National Reading Panel … Continue reading Phonics, Failure, and the Public Schools

From Phonics to Reading

William H. Sadlier, Inc. | Series Overview: The instructional materials reviewed for From Phonics to Reading Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2 meet the criteria for alignment to standards and research-based practices for foundational skills instruction. The instructional materials use a synthetic approach to phonics. Materials include a scope and sequence that clearly delineates an … Continue reading From Phonics to Reading

The reading wars are over – and phonics has won

Sarah Mitchell: Of all the debates in education, none are quite as absurd as the reading wars. On the one hand there are those who advocate for a phonics-based approach to reading instruction in the early years – making sure children understand sound-letter relationships so they can read words accurately without guessing from the context … Continue reading The reading wars are over – and phonics has won

Phonics. Whole language. Balanced literacy. The problem isn’t that we don’t know how to teach reading — it’s politics

Andrew Rotherham: Policymakers are focusing on the craft of teaching reading. They must also focus on the politics. Last year’s NAEP scores continued a lackluster streak and set off a predictable bout of handwringing. This time, it was reading instruction — or, more precisely, our national pandemic of ineffective reading instruction — catching the flak. … Continue reading Phonics. Whole language. Balanced literacy. The problem isn’t that we don’t know how to teach reading — it’s politics

Phonics Gains Traction As State Education Authority Takes Stand On Reading Instruction

Elizabeth Dohms: Late last month, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction took a stand on a long-debated method of teaching reading to students, ruling that phonics has a place in literacy education after all. An approach that teaches students how written language represents spoken words, phonics got its endorsement from state schools Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor during the 2020 Wisconsin … Continue reading Phonics Gains Traction As State Education Authority Takes Stand On Reading Instruction

Phonics Instruction In Wisconsin Schools

Courtney Everett: The Department of Public Instruction recently announced it will endorse ‘explicit phonics instruction.’ A professor joins us to explain these new state standards and what research says about phonics. Plus, we’ll examine how Wisconsin schools are teaching students to read today. “You know, we talk a lot about how poverty has a huge impact … Continue reading Phonics Instruction In Wisconsin Schools

Meeting the Challenges of Early Literacy Phonics Instruction

International Literacy Association: Learning to read can, at times, seem almost magical. A child sits in front of a book and transforms those squig- gles and lines into sounds, puts those sounds together to make words, and puts those words together to make meaning. But it’s not magical. English is an alphabetic language. We have … Continue reading Meeting the Challenges of Early Literacy Phonics Instruction

Explicit Phonics Instruction: It’s Not Just for Students With Dyslexia

Kyle Redford: “When we know better, we do better.” There is something forgiving and medicinal about that teaching mantra. I am regularly realizing that I could have taught something more effectively or that I should have been more culturally responsive in my language or practices. Content becomes outdated or is later revealed to be incomplete … Continue reading Explicit Phonics Instruction: It’s Not Just for Students With Dyslexia

Stanford Professor Bruce McCandliss found that beginning readers who focus on letter-sound relationships, or phonics, increase activity in the area of their brains best wired for reading.

Stanford News: In other words, to develop reading skills, teaching students to sound out “C-A-T” sparks more optimal brain circuitry than instructing them to memorize the word “cat.” And, the study found, these teaching-induced differences show up even on future encounters with the word. The study, co-authored by Stanford Professor Bruce McCandliss of the Graduate … Continue reading Stanford Professor Bruce McCandliss found that beginning readers who focus on letter-sound relationships, or phonics, increase activity in the area of their brains best wired for reading.

Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read? “The study found that teacher candidates in Mississippi were getting an average of 20 minutes of instruction in phonics over their entire two-year teacher preparation program”

Emily Hanford: Balanced literacy was a way to defuse the wars over reading,” said Mark Seidenberg, a cognitive neuroscientist and author of the book “Language at the Speed of Sight.” “It succeeded in keeping the science at bay, and it allowed things to continue as before.” He says the reading wars are over, and science … Continue reading Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read? “The study found that teacher candidates in Mississippi were getting an average of 20 minutes of instruction in phonics over their entire two-year teacher preparation program”

“We weren’t teaching phonics consistently in the early grades”

Paul Fanlund: For example? “If you’re looking for the simplest examples, we weren’t consistently teaching students the fundamentals of reading in the earliest grades. We weren’t teaching phonics consistently in the early grades, and then you wonder why students aren’t attaining the skills, the basic skills … the foundational skills of reading. We still have … Continue reading “We weren’t teaching phonics consistently in the early grades”

Are You Hooked On Phonics, Pleasant Hill Parents? You Should Be

May Wong: Beginning readers who focus on letter-sound relationships, or phonics, instead of trying to learn whole words, increase activity in the area of their brains best wired for reading, according to new Stanford research investigating how the brain responds to different types of reading instruction. In other words, to develop reading skills, teaching students … Continue reading Are You Hooked On Phonics, Pleasant Hill Parents? You Should Be

DPI Standard of the Week: Using phonics as building blocks for reading

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email: The Department of Public Instruction chooses an English Language Arts standard each week and posts resources and ideas for practicing in the classroom and at home. The standard for the week of January 5 is phonics. Follow this link to the site http://dpi.wi.gov/my-wi-standards/ela/1-6-15 As is usually the case … Continue reading DPI Standard of the Week: Using phonics as building blocks for reading

Did primary school teachers in England game the phonics check?

Richard Adams: The phonics check, a simple test of reading given to five and six year-olds at the end of year one of primary school in England, comprises words and “pseudo-words” that children are expected to pronounce. In 2012 and 2013, the Department for Education announced in advance what the “pass” mark was to be. … Continue reading Did primary school teachers in England game the phonics check?

Reading lessons: why synthetic phonics doesn’t work

Andrew Davis: Current government policy concerning reading favours synthetic phonics (SP), where children learn to recognise letters with their associated sounds – and how to blend those sounds to “read” the “words”. The revised national curriculum, coming into force from September 2014, requires reception and year 1 students to be taught SP. Students aren’t meant … Continue reading Reading lessons: why synthetic phonics doesn’t work

Peg Tyre Interview: phonics, grammar, choosing a school, parents and crime

Peg Tyre SIS interviewI recently had an opportunity to talk [42mb mp3 file] with the intriguing Peg Tyre. Tyre recently wrote “The Writing Revolution” for The Atlantic:

For years, nothing seemed capable of turning around New Dorp High School’s dismal performance–not firing bad teachers, not flashy education technology, not after-school programs. So, faced with closure, the school’s principal went all-in on a very specific curriculum reform, placing an overwhelming focus on teaching the basics of analytic writing, every day, in virtually every class. What followed was an extraordinary blossoming of student potential, across nearly every subject–one that has made New Dorp a model for educational reform.

Peg has authored two books: The Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Kids The Education They Deserve, The Trouble with Boys and blogs here.
An excerpt:

Peg: You cover crime for a long time and you realize that it’s very banal. You start to realize that one person killed another person in a horrendous way, but if you look at their lives, it looks like it was two trains on a track heading for each other. The miracle would have been if they didn’t end up killing each other.
Interviewer: [laughing]
Peg: They became a kind of inevitability to the conflicts that I saw. I asked my self, my intellectual journey of why is this happening? Why are theses trains set on a collision course? What I came to was lack of opportunity. You dig deeper into that, and it’s lack of education.
Interviewer: Right.
Peg: I actually come at education… Most journalists come at education because they have kids or they think that kids are cute or they have parents who are teachers and they have warm feelings about school. I have really mixed feelings about school. Yes, kids are cute, but I actually come at this from a social…I don’t know. It’s sort of like a harder nosed perspective.
Interviewer: Yeah.
Peg: Also, I hate education blah blah. I hate people using school words and pretending that their having a dialogue when they’re really just jargoning at each other.
Interviewer: [laughing]
Peg: I hate people telling me they have the answer to poverty, that they have the answer to the achievement gap, when you know and I know every intelligent person who’s listening to this knows that it’s more complicated than that. I’m not exactly misanthropic, but I’m an investigative reporter by trade, so I’m just like a “show me” kind of gal. I’m just like, “Yeah, really? Very interesting froth. Show me.”

Listen to the interview via this 42mb mp3 file , or read the transcript.

MMSD Literacy Program Review; “Instruction in Phonics Evident”, “Coloring, cutting/pasting and copying of other printed work would not be considered quality independent literacy work and this was seen in many classrooms”. Remarkable. Reading is job #1.

Lisa Wachtel, Executive Director of Curriculum & Assessment [104 Page PDF]:

Grades K-2 Literacy Walkthroughs
Background: Observations of literacy classes, or, walkthroughs, were scheduled for seventeen of MMSD’ s highest poverty elementary schools during the months of April and May. Three administrators visited each school for a half-day for a minimum of 12 hours of observation per school. All K-2 classrooms are observed for at least an hour by one of the three administrators. Second/third grade classrooms were observed in schools with multi-aged instructional designs. When substitute teachers are present, follow-up observations were attempted.
The purpose of the walk throughs was to provide schools with a baseline of literacy practices and to communicate a district snapshot of K-2 observable literacy practices when student routines and independence are well established. Although not a complete picture, the walkthroughs provided evidence of teaching emphasis, expectations, school/district implementation efforts and additional anecdotal information that might suggest potential areas for consideration.
Timeline: April16- May 25, 2012 Observations
May 30-31,2012 Meet with principals to discuss results of the observations
Observation Tool: Please see the attached document. This is an observation protocol merging documents developed by Fountas and Pinnell and Dom. This observation tool was selected because it captured the general categories of literacy instruction that would be included in a 90-120 minute literacy lesson. Observers could capture any of the elements observed during the 60 observations. An additional section, classroom environment provides a way to document materials and classroom structures.
Preliminary Findings:
1. The majority of primary literacy environments were organized around a Balanced Literacy Model. However, within that model, there was significant variation in what the model looked like. This lack of consistency was seen both within and across all 17 schools.
2. Most classrooms were organized in a planned and thoughtful manner. Attention was given to the development and use of a classroom library, individual book boxes and areas where students could work in pairs or small groups.
3. Although classrooms in most schools were thoughtfully organized, some classrooms were cluttered and there were not optimal environments for learning. It is recommended that IRTs work with teachers to create good physical environments in all classrooms.
4. Although the majority of classrooms had at least a 90 minute literacy block, some did not. Attention to direct instruction for at least 90 minutes is crucial for the success of all learners. Principals must make this a clear expectation. The literacy block must also be implemented with fidelity.
5. There was a lack of consistency both within and across grade levels based on common core standards and best teaching practices. This should be an area of emphasis for all schools. IRTs and principals will need to develop a tight structure of accountability that supports the Common Core State Standards and the Curriculum Companion tool.
6. In most cases, instruction in phonics and phonemic awareness was clearly evident. This instruction reflected the professional development both at the district and school level around phonics instruction, phonemic awareness and word work. Instruction appeared to be more systematic, targeted and focused than in previous years.
7. Guided Reading Instruction was observed in the many of the classrooms. It should be noted that in several schools guided reading did not occur five days a week. A wide range of practices were observed during guided reading. Teaching points were often unclear. Observers noted few teachers administering running records or maintaining other types of formative assessments.
8. Targeted, focused instruction around a precise teaching point is a critical component of quality literacy instruction. Focused feedback emphasizing areas of student mastery was also inconsistent. Again, consistency related to core practices as well as ongoing specific assessment practices should be apparent within and across elementary grades.
9. Professional development work should continue around the use of assessment tools. Principals must require the practice of ongoing assessment in all classrooms.
10. The development and use of anchor charts and mini lessons are critical pieces of strong core instruction. Anchor charts and mini lessons were seen in some classrooms and not in others. Professional development should address these ideas so that there is consistency across the district.
11. In many classrooms, the quality of independent student work was of concern. Teachers in all classrooms must pay careful attention to independent student work. This work must support the structure of the literacy block, be consistent with the focus of guided reading and be at each student’s independent level. Emphasis must consistently be on authentic reading and writing tasks. Work should be differentiated. Coloring, cutting/pasting and copying of other printed work would not be considered quality independent literacy work and this was seen in many classrooms (bold added).
12. Teachers were inconsistent in giving feedback to students related to specific learning. Clear, corrective feedback and/or affirmation of solid understandings will accelerate individual student learning and help learners tie the known to the new.
13. All students should also be receiving ongoing, focused feedback related to independent work and independent reading. Regular conferencing and assessment of independent reading and writing is a crucial component of a rigorous literacy curriculum.

Related: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.

Teaching unions urge rethink of phonics checks

Judith Burns:

Leaders of three teaching unions have written to MPs urging a rethink of the phonics checks for six-year olds which are starting in schools.
The unions say the controversial tests are an expensive way to tell schools what they already know and will do nothing to improve children’s reading.
They describe the checks on how well children can read both real and made-up words, as “flawed”.
Schools minister Nick Gibb called the unions’ position disappointing.
Mr Gibb said: “Many of their members have already told us how this quick check will allow them to identify thousands of children who need extra help to become good readers.

Phonics test: NUT says it will make failures of five-year-olds

Angela Harrison:

A teachers’ union is calling for a boycott of a new phonics reading test, saying it risks making failures of five-year-olds.
The government in England wants all children to be taught to read using phonics, where they learn the sounds of letters and groups of letters.
And it says the new “phonics check” for five and six-year-olds will help identify children who need extra help.
But the National Union of Teachers says it will not tell teachers anything new.
And the union fears the results could be used in league tables.

WPRI: Milwaukee Public Schools Find Success with Phonics-Based Teaching Technique

Sammis White, Ph.D (full report here: 250K PDF): study of 23,000 third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students in the Milwaukee Public Schools showed that “among low-income students tracked between third and fourth grades 2002-03 to 2003-04, those with five years of Direct Instruction (DI) increased their math scores by 6.6% whereas non-low-income students increased their scores … Continue reading WPRI: Milwaukee Public Schools Find Success with Phonics-Based Teaching Technique

Britain Goes Back to the Future with Phonics

The Telegraph: David Blunkett, the Education Secretary who introduced the Literacy Strategy, promised to resign in 2002 unless 80 per cent met the expected standard of English on leaving primary school. The target has never been met, but Mr Blunkett long ago moved on to higher things. Instead, it is the nation’s children who have … Continue reading Britain Goes Back to the Future with Phonics

The Importance of Phonics

Relevant to the sucess of students at Marquette Elementary School, U.W. Psychologist Mark Seidenberg has a new paper in Psychological Review that shows that phonics is critical for skilled reading. Seidenberg’s research “suggests that teaching young children the relationships between spellings and sounds – or phonics – not only makes learning to read easier, but … Continue reading The Importance of Phonics

“They viewed reading more as rules and memorization”

Kayla Huynh: After years of stagnant reading scores, educators see renewed promise in Act 20. The law, signed in July with broad support from legislators and school districts, is set to make sweeping changes across the state in how schools teach kindergarten through third grade students how to read. Under the act, districts next school year will … Continue reading “They viewed reading more as rules and memorization”

“The author’s efforts to place responsibility for Ohio’s reading struggles into my lap, however, are unwarranted”

Lucy Caulkins: The author’s efforts to place responsibility for Ohio’s reading struggles into my lap, however, are unwarranted. He writes, “A recent survey from the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce found that two of the most popular curricula statewide are Fountas and Pinnell’s Classroom and Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study,” and he goes on … Continue reading “The author’s efforts to place responsibility for Ohio’s reading struggles into my lap, however, are unwarranted”

“two universities stick with a discredited idea”

Christopher Peak and Emily Haavik Pressure is mounting on two universities to change the way they train on-the-job educators to teach reading.  The Ohio State University in Columbus and Lesley University near Boston both run prominent literacy training programs that include a theorycontradicted by decades of cognitive science research. Amid a $660 million effort to retrain teachers that’s underway in … Continue reading “two universities stick with a discredited idea”

“At least 79% of school districts surveyed by @WisconsinDPI in 2021 said they use a curriculum that is either not rated or is negatively rated by EdReports”

Danielle Duclos With low reading proficiency scores across the state, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin is exploring the causes and consequences of low literacy. This article is part of the By the Book series, which examines reading curriculum, instructional methods and solutions in K-12 education to answer the questions: Why do so many Wisconsin kids struggle to … Continue reading “At least 79% of school districts surveyed by @WisconsinDPI in 2021 said they use a curriculum that is either not rated or is negatively rated by EdReports”

An update on Wisconsin’s attempts to improve our long term, disastrous reading results

Alan Borsuk: The approach is best known for emphasizing phonics-based instruction, which teaches children the sounds of letters and how to put the sounds together into words. But when done right, it involves more than that — incorporating things such as developing vocabulary, comprehension skills and general knowledge. More:What is phonics? Here’s a guide to … Continue reading An update on Wisconsin’s attempts to improve our long term, disastrous reading results

Wisconsin DPI Reading Curriculum Evaluation list

The taxpayer funded Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s early literacy review, as a result of Act 20. (Letter to Leaders). Letter to JFC Early Literacy Curriculum Comparison “At a Glance” ELCC Center for Collaborative Classroom Ratings American Reading Company (ARC) ELCC Ready 4 Reading Ratings Voyager Passport Intervention ELCC Into Reading Wilson Language Training CKLA … Continue reading Wisconsin DPI Reading Curriculum Evaluation list

Wisconsin DPI vs learning to read

Jenny Warner: Last week, Wisconsin’s expert Early Literacy Curriculum Council recommended the highest-quality list we have seen from any state. Then @WisconsinDPI tried to overrule them, for no sound reason. More. The nine-member Early Literacy Curriculum Council reviewed and recommended four curriculums. The council includes six members chosen by the Republican majority leaders of the … Continue reading Wisconsin DPI vs learning to read

Reading Recovery program being phased out as new law takes effect

By Sue Loughlin Under a new law, HEA 1558, the state of Indiana is mandating instruction and curriculum that aligns with the science of reading; use of Reading Recovery must be phased out by fall of 2024. Science of reading is a methodology that uses direct, systematic use of five elements in literacy instruction: phonemic … Continue reading Reading Recovery program being phased out as new law takes effect

‘Right-to-read’ settlement spurred higher reading scores in California’s lowest performing schools, study finds

Jill Barshay: In 2017, public interest lawyers sued California because they claimed that too many low- income Black and Hispanic children weren’t learning to read at school. Filed on behalf of families and teachers at three schools with pitiful reading test scores, the suit was an effort to establish a constitutional right to read. However, … Continue reading ‘Right-to-read’ settlement spurred higher reading scores in California’s lowest performing schools, study finds

Southeastern’s Teacher Training

AN17: Southeastern Louisiana University’s undergraduate teacher preparation program has been recognized by the National Council on Teacher Quality. The program received a grade of ‘A’ in NCTQ’s new report “Teacher Prep Review: Strengthening Elementary Reading Instruction” for its rigorous preparation of future teachers in how to teach reading. Southeastern’s program is among just 23 percent … Continue reading Southeastern’s Teacher Training

“Only 54 percent of first-time Teacher test takers passed for the 2020-21 school year. That’s down from 66 percent in 2014-15”

Corrinne Hess: The proposed bill, authored by Sen. Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, and state Rep. Jeff Mursau, R-Crivitz, extends that exception to applicants for all licenses that require the FORT exam.   Felzkowski and Mursau did not respond to requests for comment.  Lawmakers, DPI and the Wisconsin Association of School Boards say the change is necessary to … Continue reading “Only 54 percent of first-time Teacher test takers passed for the 2020-21 school year. That’s down from 66 percent in 2014-15”

“Call it the end of an era for fantasy-fueled reading instruction”

Kendra Hurley: Call it the end of an era for fantasy-fueled reading instruction. In a move that has parents like me cheering, Columbia University’s Teachers College announced last month that it is shuttering its once famous—in some circles, now-infamous—reading organization founded by education guru and entrepreneur Lucy Calkins. For decades, the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project … Continue reading “Call it the end of an era for fantasy-fueled reading instruction”

If we want all kids to become fully literate, we need to get more specific about “knowledge.”

Natalie Wexler: Journalists are increasingly recognizing that the “science of reading” extends beyond phonics to include building the knowledge that enables comprehension. But they need to get more specific about what that looks like. Media coverage of the reading crisis has focused on problems with instruction in phonics, as have many literacy advocacy organizations. That has led to … Continue reading If we want all kids to become fully literate, we need to get more specific about “knowledge.”

Notes, Politics and our long term, disastrous reading results; Madison + State

Quinton Klabon: 1 year and $1 BILLION in federal relief later, it’s still tragic. •6,000 fewer kids on college track•101,000 kids below grade level•Green Bay, Janesville stuck at pandemic low•Milwaukee Black kids not catching up Scott Girard: In the Madison Metropolitan School District, proficiency rates in both subjects are well above the state for white … Continue reading Notes, Politics and our long term, disastrous reading results; Madison + State

Teacher prep programs not on the same page as Wisconsin’s new reading law

Corrinne Hess: But data shows that most teacher education programs at colleges and universities are still not fully teaching the science of reading.  Instead of learning how to read through pictures, word cues and memorization, children will be taught using a phonics-based method that focuses on sounding out letters and phrases, with the hope of addressing … Continue reading Teacher prep programs not on the same page as Wisconsin’s new reading law

Repairing the damage Columbia’s Teachers College did to American kids will take years

Robert Pondiscio I’ve come to bury Lucy Calkins, not to praise her. Columbia University’s Teachers College announced this month what once seemed unthinkable: It’s “dissolving” its relationship with Calkins, sending the controversial literacy guru and her cash-cow publishing and consulting empire packing. The divorce came a few months after the New York City Department of … Continue reading Repairing the damage Columbia’s Teachers College did to American kids will take years

‘I Literally Cried’: Teachers Describe Their Transition to Science-Based Reading Instruction

Elizabeth Heubeck: In an era where humans have managed to create an artificial intelligence toolsophisticated enough to churn out an essay on Shakespeare, it seems unlikely that there would still be ambiguity about how best to teach kids how to read. But the “reading wars” continue to incite differences of opinion in various forums, from school … Continue reading ‘I Literally Cried’: Teachers Describe Their Transition to Science-Based Reading Instruction

Did New York City Forget How to Teach Children to Read?

Caitlin Moscatello At a meeting with parents in May, Elizabeth Phillips, a longtime principal at P.S. 321, a highly sought-after elementary school in Park Slope, didn’t mince words about the new reading curricula being implemented across the city this fall by Mayor Eric Adams’s administration. Not only did she refer to the trio of options selected … Continue reading Did New York City Forget How to Teach Children to Read?

“Middle and high school teachers aren’t expecting to have to teach kids how to read,” Albro said.

Heather Hollingsworth: Beyond third grade, fewer teachers each year know how to help students who are lacking key foundational reading skills, said Elizabeth Albro, an executive at the U.S. Department of Education’s independent research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences. Nationally, students suffered deep learning setbacks in reading and math during the pandemic. Last year’s … Continue reading “Middle and high school teachers aren’t expecting to have to teach kids how to read,” Albro said.

Notes on the “science of Reading”

Matt Barnum: In the long-running reading wars, proponents of phonics have won. States across the country, both liberal and conservative, are passing laws designed to change the way students are taught to read in a way that is more aligned with the science of reading. States, schools of education, districts, and — ultimately, the hope is — teachers, are placing a … Continue reading Notes on the “science of Reading”

An educational entrepreneur creates a school for kids with reading difficulties.

Danyela Souza Egorov: Tim Castanza admits that he was “triggered.” The year was 2016, and Castanza, then working for the New York City Department of Education, attended a Community Education Council meeting in Staten Island, where several mothers of kids with dyslexia spoke. The public schools didn’t have any programs for their children, they said, … Continue reading An educational entrepreneur creates a school for kids with reading difficulties.

Millions of kids are missing weeks of school as attendance tanks across the US

BIANCA VÁZQUEZ TONESS Across the country, students have been absentat record rates since schools reopened during the pandemic. More than a quarter of students missed at least 10% of the 2021-22 school year, making them chronically absent, according to the most recent data available. Before the pandemic, only 15% of students missed that much school.  All … Continue reading Millions of kids are missing weeks of school as attendance tanks across the US

Why the National Reading Panel report didn’t fix reading instruction 20 years ago

Will Callan: More than 20 years ago, the federal government released a review of decades of reading research whose findings should have charted a path toward better instruction and higher reading levels. Based on an extensive research review, the National Reading Panel (NRP) report was an inflection point in the history of reading research and … Continue reading Why the National Reading Panel report didn’t fix reading instruction 20 years ago

A former education reporter reflects on how and why she didn’t connect low literacy scores to inadequate literacy instruction

Patti Ghezi: The children sat on the carpet, eyes on their teacher, who looked down at them from a rocking chair like a wise, loving grandma. They were first graders, the age when school is new and fun. What would their teacher say next? What she said was, “Let’s talk about diphthongs!” A diphthong is … Continue reading A former education reporter reflects on how and why she didn’t connect low literacy scores to inadequate literacy instruction

More than 20 years ago, the federal government released a review of decades of reading research whose findings should have charted a path toward better instruction and higher reading levels.

Kappan: Based on an extensive research review, the National Reading Panel (NRP) report was an inflection point in the history of reading research and education policy. It found that instruction in five related areas — phonemic awareness, phonics, oral reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension — benefits early readers. And, in the minds of many, including … Continue reading More than 20 years ago, the federal government released a review of decades of reading research whose findings should have charted a path toward better instruction and higher reading levels.

Taxpayer funded school spending and woke curricula commentary

Maddie Hanna: “The radicalism that the left has taken to try to force socialism and Marxism in our classrooms is the most outrageous thing this country has ever seen,” said Ryan Walters, Oklahoma’s superintendent of public instruction. “You all are on the front lines of it.” As hours-long protests continued outside, the 600-plus member crowd … Continue reading Taxpayer funded school spending and woke curricula commentary

What to know about a new Wisconsin reading bill

Scott Girard: A bill headed to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk, approved by the state Senate on Wednesday and the Assembly a week earlier, features a variety of new requirements for the state and local school districts on phonics-based reading instruction for 4-year-old kindergarten through third grade. Third grade is widely considered a key turning point … Continue reading What to know about a new Wisconsin reading bill

Wisconsin Senate passes a k-12 literacy curriculum update

Wispolitics: The Senate today approved a bill to turn Wisconsin’s approach to literacy into a phonics-based program in an attempt to improve reading. Senators 25-7 approved the bill, sending AB 321 to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk. The bill would establish an Office of Literacy to contract 64 full-time literacy coaches who would help teachers implement … Continue reading Wisconsin Senate passes a k-12 literacy curriculum update

38% of ed schools get ‘F’ in prepping teachers to teach reading

Joanne Jacobs: Thirty-eight percent of teacher-education programs are failing to prepare future teachers to teach reading using the most effective methods, according to a new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality, writes Kate Rix on The 74. Fifty-one percent of programs earned an “F” or “D,” while 23 percent received an “A.” Teaching … Continue reading 38% of ed schools get ‘F’ in prepping teachers to teach reading

Legislation and Early Reading: Wisconsin’s odyssey continues

Tyler Katzenberger: The new version of the bill, passed Wednesday afternoon by the Assembly in 67-27 vote, would prescribe an “intensive” personal literacy plan, including summer classes, for incoming fourth graders who failed to meet third-grade reading benchmarks. Students would exit the plan after they pass a grade-level reading test and their parents agree the … Continue reading Legislation and Early Reading: Wisconsin’s odyssey continues

Politics and teaching children to read: Mother Jones Edition

Kiera Butlers Ten years ago, Marilyn Muller began to suspect that her kindergarten daughter, Lauryn, was struggling with reading. Lauryn, a bright child, seemed mystified by the process of sounding out simple words. Still, the teachers at the top-rated Massachusetts public school reassured Muller that nothing was wrong, and Lauryn would pick up the skill—eventually. Surely … Continue reading Politics and teaching children to read: Mother Jones Edition

Legislation and K-12 reading: 2023 Wisconsin Edition

Corrinne Hess: A bipartisan bill is expected to be released this month that would change the way most public schools in Wisconsin teach reading.  State Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Education, has been working with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction on the plan that would move more schools … Continue reading Legislation and K-12 reading: 2023 Wisconsin Edition

“Mississippi has achieved its gains despite ranking 46th in spending per pupil in grades K-12”

Nicholas Kristof visits flyover country: Mississippi’s success has no single origin moment, but one turning point was arguably when Jim Barksdale decided to retire in the state. A former C.E.O. of Netscape, he had grown up in Mississippi but was humiliated by its history of racism and underperformance. “My home state was always held in … Continue reading “Mississippi has achieved its gains despite ranking 46th in spending per pupil in grades K-12”

Love It or Hate It, the Science of Reading Gains Traction in Schools

Andrew Bauld In 2018, Anders Rasmussen arrived as principal of Wood Road Elementary School in Ballston Spa, NY, in his words, a “reading neophyte.” A former high school English teacher and assistant principal, Rasmussen came to the new job with a basic background in elementary reading curriculum and a readiness to learn what was working at his … Continue reading Love It or Hate It, the Science of Reading Gains Traction in Schools

Notes on Mississippi’s k-12 reading growth (while Wisconsin tolerated disastrous results)

Alex Tabarrok: In 2002, Florida adopted a phonics based reading strategy due to Charlie Crist. Scores started to rise. Other southern states started to following suit, including Mississippi long deried as the worst in the nation. APNews: Mississippi went from being ranked the second-worst state in 2013 for fourth-grade reading to 21st in 2022. Louisiana and … Continue reading Notes on Mississippi’s k-12 reading growth (while Wisconsin tolerated disastrous results)

‘Mississippi miracle’: Kids’ reading scores have soared in Deep South states; Wisconsin lags…

Sharon Luyre: It’s a cliché that Kymyona Burk heard a little too often: “Thank God for Mississippi.” As the state’s literacy director, she knew politicians in other states would say it when their reading test scores were down — because at least they weren’t ranked as low as Mississippi. Or Louisiana. Or Alabama. Lately, the … Continue reading ‘Mississippi miracle’: Kids’ reading scores have soared in Deep South states; Wisconsin lags…

Trust the Science? The Use of Outdated Reading Curricula in Wisconsin Schools

Will Flanders and Matt Levene: Forward Exam scores show that Wisconsin students are struggling in reading. Currently statewide, only about 36.8% of students scored proficient or higher on the Forward Exam, meaning the majority of students are falling behind. Reading problems cut across all socioeconomic and racial lines. Much attention has been focused on the … Continue reading Trust the Science? The Use of Outdated Reading Curricula in Wisconsin Schools

New York Is Forcing Schools to Change How They Teach Children to Read

Troy Closson: In a recent interview, Mr. Banks said that the city’s approach had been “fundamentally flawed,” and had failed to follow the science of how students learn to read. “It’s not your fault. It’s not your child’s fault. It was our fault,” Mr. Banks said. “This is the beginning of a massive turnaround.” Over … Continue reading New York Is Forcing Schools to Change How They Teach Children to Read

Notes on Wisconsin’s long term, disastrous reading results – Kenosha Edition

👎🏼why Wisconsin’s kids can’t read👎🏼 I’m incredibly disappointed to see Kenosha @kusd, Wisconsin’s 3rd-largest district, explicitly push back against @ehanford‘s SOLD A STORY podcast and mainstream news’ attention to PHONICS. (Kenosha ranks 403rd on 2022 Wisconsin report cards.) pic.twitter.com/Ln52kLcsrV — Quinton Klabon (@GhaleonQ) April 24, 2023 Reading proficiency of Wisconsin students has been generally stagnant for … Continue reading Notes on Wisconsin’s long term, disastrous reading results – Kenosha Edition

‘Kids Can’t Read’: The Revolt That Is Taking On the Education Establishment

Sarah Mervosh: About one in three children in the United States cannot read at a basic level of comprehension, according to a key national exam. The outcomes are particularly troubling for Black and Native American children, nearly half of whom score “below basic” by eighth grade. “The kids can’t read — nobody wants to just … Continue reading ‘Kids Can’t Read’: The Revolt That Is Taking On the Education Establishment

After years of declining literacy scores, Madison schools move forward with new reading curriculum

Jenny Peek: The hope is that the new curriculum will improve dismal reading scores across the district. According to the 2021-2022 State Report Card, prepared by the Department of Instruction, only 39.5% of K-12 students in Madison schools were proficient or advanced in reading that school year. The district’s Black students fare worse. In 2021-2022 … Continue reading After years of declining literacy scores, Madison schools move forward with new reading curriculum

Kotek: ‘We are going to make sure that the science of reading guides what districts do’

Julia Silverman: After weeks of furious, behind-the-scenes negotiations, Gov. Tina Kotek has thrown her weight — and a proposal to spend upwards of $100 million – behind a bill that aims to overhaul how Oregon’s youngest students are taught to read. The effort, dubbed the Early Literacy Success Initiative, is up for a pivotal hearing in … Continue reading Kotek: ‘We are going to make sure that the science of reading guides what districts do’

DeWine’s laudable K-12 proposals on literacy instruction should not be mandatory for schools: editorial

Cleveland Plain Dealer: In the two-year state budget he’s proposed, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine is asking the General Assembly to heavily invest in reading instruction as a cornerstone of Ohio’s schooling. In doing so, the governor is coming down on one side of a longtime debate over which teaching strategy for reading — phonics instruction, now … Continue reading DeWine’s laudable K-12 proposals on literacy instruction should not be mandatory for schools: editorial

Instructional Coach Kyle Thayse Wisconsin Education Committee Testimony; Q&A; Lucy Calkins

Transcript mp3 Audio Entire hearing video. An interesting excerpt, regarding their use of the discredited Lucy Caulkins Reading Curriculum (see Sold a Story): Senator John Jagler. Thank you. I, as I talked to, to my local administrators, [00:21:00] um, I’m fascinated. Curriculum choices that have been made and continue to be made. [00:21:06] And I’m, … Continue reading Instructional Coach Kyle Thayse Wisconsin Education Committee Testimony; Q&A; Lucy Calkins

Why Did Schools Stop Teaching Kids How To Read?

Zach Weissmueller and Nick Gillespie Public schools have failed to teach kids to read and write because they use approaches that aren’t based on proven techniques based on phonics. Many schools have been influenced by the work of Columbia University’s Lucy Calkins, who is the subject of a new podcast series from American Public Media, Sold … Continue reading Why Did Schools Stop Teaching Kids How To Read?

The “balanced-literacy” method of teaching children to read has predominated in American schools since the 1990s. It has been a failure.

Christine Smallwood: One night, while searching in the woods for food, Frankenstein’s monster discovers a leather suitcase containing three books: The Sorrows of Young Werther, Plutarch’s Lives, and Paradise Lost. Goethe is a source of “astonishment” but also alienation; the monster can sympathize with the characters, but only to a point—their lives are so unlike … Continue reading The “balanced-literacy” method of teaching children to read has predominated in American schools since the 1990s. It has been a failure.

Fifty-eight educators say ‘Sold a Story’ podcast series sells incomplete story about reading instruction

Posted at the Hechinger Report: Re “A company has made millions selling books on reading instruction rooted in bad science” (Nov. 10, 2022) We are educators who have devoted our lives to the cause of helping children read and write with power. We’re dismayed that at this moment in our history, when all of us … Continue reading Fifty-eight educators say ‘Sold a Story’ podcast series sells incomplete story about reading instruction

How the media — including NPR — overlooked the significance of a landmark study on reading education

Will Callan More than 20 years ago, the federal government released a review of decades of reading research whose findings should have charted a path toward better instruction and higher reading levels. Based on an extensive research review, the National Reading Panel (NRP) report was an inflection point in the history of reading research and … Continue reading How the media — including NPR — overlooked the significance of a landmark study on reading education

How to End the Epidemic of Failure in America’s Schools

Jeb Bush: The U.S. has a choice: Give up on a generation or confront this challenge head-on. Some adults find it easier to give up. They won’t say it out loud; they’ll simply lower expectations. Or they’ll explain away the drop in scores, blaming the pandemic when scores had already begun to decline before Covid … Continue reading How to End the Epidemic of Failure in America’s Schools

“What we know for certain is that schools have been lousy at teaching kids how to read”

Dale Chu: In the 1840s, Horace Mann, known as the “father of American education,” argued that children should be taught to read whole words instead of individual letters, which he described as “skeleton-shaped, bloodless, ghostly apparitions” that make children feel “death-like, when compelled to face them.” This malformed opinion morphed into the broader whole-language theory, … Continue reading “What we know for certain is that schools have been lousy at teaching kids how to read”

Inside the Massive Effort to Change the Way Kids Are Taught to Read

Belinda Luscombe: As a teacher in Oakland, Calif., Kareem Weaver helped struggling fourth- and fifth-grade kids learn to read by using a very structured, phonics-based reading curriculum called Open Court. It worked for the students, but not so much for the teachers. “For seven years in a row, Oakland was the fastest-gaining urban district in … Continue reading Inside the Massive Effort to Change the Way Kids Are Taught to Read