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LETTER: Educators should stop relying on reading fads

LETTER: Educators should stop relying on reading fads

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Educators should stop relying on reading fads

I am writing in response to the Nov. 5 editorial [“Phonics makes a surprising comeback”]. I have been a literacy consultant, reading specialist, author, and adjunct professor for over a decade. I have helped schools from New York down to Charleston and around Virginia achieve reading success.

These schools improved because they did not invest in one program like the work of Lucy Calkins. Instead they focused on how to actually teach children to read. The question that schools should consider is not what reading program they purchased, but rather how effectively their teachers are teaching reading.

As literacy leaders, we have known for years that the five pillars of reading must be present in every single lesson to help students become independent readers. The term “science of reading” is now used to describe this imperative, but this is not new information.

We have long known that phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension are the essential five components of reading instruction. “A Touchdown in Reading: An Educator’s Guide to Literacy Instruction” is the newest educational resource created to help teachers understand how to teach all five pillars.

Before the pandemic, only 35 percent of 9-year-old children in America were reading on grade level, as shown by the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

I have provided virtual trainings for teachers across the country since schools have resumed. Every teacher told me that more than 50 percent of their students are currently reading below grade level. Kindergarten through third-grade students have experienced the most significant learning loss because these are the years when the foundations of literacy are taught.

It’s time for educators to stop relying on reading fads, but rather learn from the innovative literacy leaders and educators who are actually getting results.

Kathryn Starke

Founder, The Starke School

Richmond

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