In a major shift, the controversial figure in the fight over how to teach reading now says that beginning readers should focus on sounding out words, according to a document obtained by APM Reports.”
Emily Hanford, October 16, 2020
BIPPS readers know we have been concerned about reading instruction for many years. Important scientific evidence from the National Reading Panel’s Year 2000 report and subsequent research using fMRI techniques, which can actually look inside the human brain during cognitive activity, just seemed to be getting ignored, if not outright challenged, by many involved with the instruction of reading (see here, here, here and here for just a few examples of our many previous comments about reading instruction problems).
Instead of following the research, deniers came up with “adjustments” to the unscientific “Whole Language” approach and renamed the effort “Balanced Literacy.” Calkins was among the most foremost in the Balanced Literacy group, and as the third most-used reading program in the nation, it impacted a huge number of students.
Now, per American Public Media’s Emily Hanford, Calkins’ highly influential Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University is getting reworked to better reflect what was already known at least two decades ago.
This portends a sea state change in the resistance to teaching reading properly, and it can’t come soon enough for many of our state’s and nation’s students. According to the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in Grade 4 Reading, nationwide and in Kentucky about one out of three students cannot read at even a “Basic” level, which indicates those students don’t even have a partial mastery of the art of reading.
For Kentucky’s black students, the percentage testing below the basic level in the 2019 NAEP Grade 4 Reading Assessment was a shocking 57%.
Very simply, these very significant percentages of our students are basically unable to read at anything even approaching the level required for success in our economy.
It’s been that way for decades.
Now, even Lucy Calkins has started to wake up to the obvious and is changing her tune about what reading instruction needs to look like in our classrooms.
I hope teachers are paying attention.
I also hope legislators take note, too. We need legislation similar to what was enacted in Mississippi about seven years ago that saw that state post the only improved reading scores for any state in the same 2019 NAEP Grade 4 Reading Assessment, including moving ahead of Kentucky for both white and black students NAEP Grade 4 Reading scores. That legislation helped Mississippi’s teachers to learn what they needed to know to really teach reading properly, and the Magnolia State’s success provides evidence that we can do a lot more in Kentucky, as well.
Even Ms. Calkins seems to now know that.
Tech Note: NAEP results come from the NAEP Data Explorer.